Health and Safety Executive monitoring safety standards
Organisations and businesses in certain industry sectors are being targeted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in a move to improve safety standards in the workplace. Agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and the food production industry, are two sectors the HSE are paying particular attention to as they send inspectors into premises to assess safety standards in a bid to improve them.
What the HSE are targeting
In the agricultural sector – an industry that experienced 30 fatalities in the year 2016/17 – the HSE are particularly interested in examining the safety provisions in place to prevent fatalities and injures from ‘falling from height’ incidents on farms.
The agriculture, fishing and forestry industry as a whole experienced an estimated 13,000 non-fatal injuries of various types in the same 2016/17 period according to the HSE.
In the food manufacturing sector the HSE is primarily focusing on two key health risks. The first is occupational asthma caused through the exposure to flour dust in large bakeries, cake and biscuit making facilities and grain mills. The second risk under consideration is the causing of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as lower back pain and upper limb complaints caused from certain manual handling and repetitive tasks.
The food manufacturing sector, which together with drink manufacture covers some 30 different sectors such as meat and fish processing, dairies and bakeries, employs over 300,000 people.
The HSE has said this sector needs to improve its safety record in the two main ways discussed above, although the industry has had its fair share of large scale incidents in other risk areas such as falling from height including accidents resulting in seven figure compensation payouts.
What the HSE wish to see
A series of often unannounced safety inspections are designed to discover what safety provisions are in place, whether personnel are trained and supervised properly when engaged in potentially hazardous activities such a working at height, the type of safety equipment used, and its suitability and condition for the task at hand.
Training and safety information
To comply with health and safety requirements and ensure people within an organisation are able to administer effective safety provisions, help can be sought from specialists such as Essex and Peterborough based safety training specialists Target Zero Training.
There are associated risks to take care of when working at height including the possible proximity to dangerous equipment such as high voltage electrical installations, and the risk to those working on the ground below such as from falling tools and materials.
In food and drink manufacture there are other notable safety hazards along with the two primary concerns being targeted by the HSE as discussed earlier. For example skin damage from working with certain materials such as disinfectants is possible along with the risk of injury through using certain machinery and other equipment.
The HSE also urge those engaged in safety matters to use their website to learn more; for example there’s specific information for the agricultural sector and the food and drink manufacturing industry.