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News Archive

October 2007

'Lighten the load': Manual handling causes fatigue and injury

A third of all European workers are exposed to the risk of carrying or moving heavy loads. And rates are twice as high in sectors such as agriculture and construction.

Manual handling can cause fatigue and lead to serious injuries. Damage to the musculoskeletal system of the body is common. These musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) tend to develop over time and affect the body's muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, bones and nerves in the back, neck, shoulders and upper and lower limbs.

A quarter of European workers suffer from back pain, with the number rising to almost two fifths in the newer Member States. The risk of back injury increases if the:

And the cost of MSDs to workers, employers and governments is huge: in some Member States, 40% of the costs of workers' compensation is caused by MSDs.

Tackling MSDs associated with manual handling saves employers money. In the laundry of a large UK general hospital, excessive forward bending to lift linen was found to increase the risk of workers developing lower back and shoulder injuries. Following an ergonomic assessment that involved experts, employees and management working together, significant changes to equipment and job rotation were introduced. These led to a 62% cut in staff sickness absence, a 12% increase in productivity and a 20% drop in overtime payments.

'Lighten the load' supports this integrated management approach to tackling MSDs. First, employers, employees and government need to work together. Secondly, any actions should address the 'whole load on the body', which covers all the stresses and strains being placed on the body, including environmental factors such as cold working conditions. Thirdly, employers need to retain, rehabilitate and help employees with MSDs return to work.

Dr Jukka Takala, Director of the European Agency says "MSDs are a widespread problem - at some point in their life as many as 90% of people will suffer from them - and both employers and workers need to tackle them without delay. The agency's campaign, 'Lighten the load', is a good way to start".

'Lighten the load' culminates with the European Week for Safety and Health at Work 2007 from 22 to 26 October 2007.

For more information, go to: https://osha.europa.eu/en/themes/musculoskeletal-disorders

UK Health and Safety Executive: www.hse.gov.uk/campaigns

Health and safety improvement needs boardroom leadership says new Chair of HSC

On her first day in office the UK Health and Safety Commission's (HSC) new Chair, Judith Hackitt CBE, has called for more board level engagement and ownership on health and safety issues.

Judith Hackitt, who has been a commissioner with HSC, returns from an assignment as Director of the Chemistry for Europe project with the European Chemical Industry Council, to take up the top post as the HSC and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) gear up to face challenging times ahead including a proposed merger to create a single regulatory body.

www.hse.gov.uk/press/2007/c07014.htm

"Injuries through moving and handling at work ought to be declining each year" "too few office - based staff are trained to lift safely"

So says British Red Cross, as "Lighten the Load" is theme for European Week for Safety and Health at Work, 22- 26 October 2007. "The number of Britons suffering injuries through moving and handling at work has increased virtually every year since 1999. Yet, as working in industrial environments continues to decline and office-based work increases, they should be declining." says Amanda Jenkins of the British Red Cross.

"We want managers, especially of offices, warehouses, hospitals and nursing homes, & retail to be aware of the importance of training their staff in the run up to European Week for Safety and Health at Work, 22- 26 October, when "Lighten the Load" will be the theme and extra training courses will be available." Amanda Jenkins continues.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show that moving and handling related injuries are the most common kind of injury that lasts for more than three days and they account for 41 per cent of all long term injuries.

"It suggests that too many office, care home or shop based staff are injuring their themselves, particularly their backs. It is expensive. According to the TUC, work-related back pain is costing the country a fortune in lost time - the cost of 4.9m lost working days a year in 2005. There is also compensation and injury payment on top of that."

According to Amanda Jenkins, a lot of work related back pain is avoidable. "Those who have been trained in moving and handling skills and who put those skills into action can lift without incurring injury. Unfortunately too many staff who try to move office equipment, boxes, furniture and similar items have not been taught the correct techniques. There are training courses for all aspects of moving and handling.

"Most back injuries at work are preventable - just not enough is being done to prevent them"

The British Red Cross offer a 4 hour moving and handling course, which introduces people to moving and handling courses. The course is available at selected venues throughout the UK and as an in-company option, if you have a group of 6 or more staff requiring training. To help with larger groups or organisations operating on several sites, the British Red Cross offers a special key account service to make administration easier.

Full details of Courses and the Key Account Service are available from www.redcross.org.uk/faw or by calling our national customer service centre on 08970 170 9110.

Seeking authoritative guidance and advice on health and safety information in Polish?

Maybe the following will help...

Health and Safety Executive Health and Safety leaflets in Polish (about 20) www.hse.gov.uk/languages/polish.htm

Trades Union Congress Migrant Workers www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/migrant-workers

Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland
Your health, your safety: A guide for workers - Polish, English, etc. www.hseni.gov.uk/resources/publications.htm

The Food Safety Handbook Level 2 (Polish)

In response to many requests from trainers, Highfield have translated the UK's No. 1 Book for Level 2 food safety training, 'The Food Hygiene Handbook' into Polish. Renamed the "Level 2 Food Safety Handbook", to reflect its suitability for the new courses. The book provides the basic food safety information essential for all high-risk food handlers.

Reference is made throughout to hazards and controls, including allergenic hazards. It includes the latest legal requirements as well as providing an understanding of the Principles of HACCP.

It can also be used to support in-house training or for reference purposes. www.highfield.co.uk/docs/newproducts.htm scroll down to see document.

World Congress on Safety and Health at Work 2008 and APOSHO Annual General Meeting to be held simultaneously

World Congress on Safety and Health at Work and The annual general meeting of the Asia Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organization (APOSHO), a cooperative organization of safety and health institutions in the Asia-Pacific region, will be held simultaneously in Seoul, Korea next year.

The Ministry of Labour (MOL) and KOSHA said on 5 June that the 24th annual general meeting of APOSHO will be held for 4 days beginning 29 June 2008 in Seoul.

US NIOSH and AIHA renew partnership

The US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association have renewed their partnership to improve occupational safety and health conditions in the workplace.

The renewal reaffirms the commitment both groups made last year to use collaborative efforts and expertise to advance the protection of workers, promote best practices, and encourage employers to develop and utilize occupational safety and health management systems and effective prevention strategies and technologies. The renewed partnership will continue through December 31, 2008.

A copy of the memorandum of understanding can be viewed at: www.aiha.org/about-aiha/partnerships/Pages/AIHA-NIOSH-Partnership.aspx

Most UK employers do not know the annual cost of sickness absence

Only around a third (34%) of employers know how much sickness absence costs their organisation each year, according to the Sickness Absence Survey*, by leading disability insurer Unum. And almost half of employers (47%) did not know how long they would have to pay their employees their full salary if they were unable to work due to illness.

However, this seems at odds with the fact that most employers (80%) also believe that their sickness absence procedures are adequate enough to enable them to manage the financial implications of their employees' sickness absence.

According to the Sickness Absence survey, almost two thirds of employers (63%) did not think sickness absence was an important issue for their organisation. This is despite the fact that according to the CBI, absence costs the UK £12 billion per year.

There are also significant differences in perceptions around the sickness absence in organisations of different sizes or sector. For example, 79% of large businesses thought that sickness absence was an important issue for their business while only 29% of businesses with a turnover of £100,000 - £250,000 thought this was the case; 59% of transport/ communications of employers thought that sickness absence was an important issue but only 28% of business services and 29% of agriculture/ mining sector business thought this was the case.

The survey indicated that there is confusion and clear underestimation of the impact of sickness absence amongst employers. On the one hand employers largely believe that they are carrying out the right procedures around sickness absence and believe that sickness absence is not an important issue. On the other hand, they are not entirely sure what the impact and costs of sickness absence within their organisations are. This also varies significantly depending on the size and sector of an organisation.

Wojciech Dochan, Head of Commercial Marketing at Unum commented on the Sickness Absence survey results: "Despite the fact many organisations believe that they are handling sickness absence in an adequate manner, they still do not know the real cost of sickness absence to their organisation. It is clear, that to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity, they need to invest more resources in assessing sickness absence and evaluating the exact costs to the business.

"With this challenge in mind, WorkMatters, a Unum Group company has developed the Absence Tracker service for organisations, which provides an efficient system of reporting and tracking trends in absenteeism. This can help cut costs associated with sickness absence and enable the adoption of early intervention programmes that help employees get back to work."

*The study was conducted in Great Britain by independent research agency Continental Research via Combined Business Omnibus, in May/ June 2007.

For more information visit www.unum.co.uk

Lyme disease safety and health topic page

A new topic page on the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) web site is www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/lyme, provides employers and workers with recommendations for protecting themselves from tick bites.

Outdoor workers, particularly those located in the northeastern and north-central states, are at highest risk of exposure to infected ticks. The page outlines symptoms and diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

New manual and course

New 2007 Edition - Inspection Manual

Phil Ackland's Inspecting Commercial Kitchen Systems manual has been revised and updated. With over 100 photos and drawings this manual makes commercial kitchen exhaust understandable to building inspectors and design engineers, from owners to maintenance workers. A must read for anyone involved with commercial kitchen exhaust systems. For a complete chapter list and to order your copy today, www.philackland.com/books-videos/fire-inspectors-manual

Inspector's Course NOW ONLINE

You don't have to wait any longer; you can now take the inspector's course - online. Study at your own pace, work around your schedule. For fire officials, building inspectors and insurance companies who want to increase their knowledge. Know what to look for when you look at a commercial kitchen exhaust system and how it is suppose to be installed and maintained. For a detailed description, www.philackland.com/courses/inspector-course

New book: Managing stress and conflict

Stress and conflict in the workplace undermine performance and can make people mentally and physically ill, and research indicates that ever-increasing numbers of people are experiencing excessive pressure of this kind - including aggression and abuse - in our rapidly changing world of work.

This applies to libraries and information organizations as much as anywhere; indeed they can be particular targets for verbal and non-verbal violent behaviour through their accessibility to the public, and there are also employees of such organizations who are suffering, often in silence, from aggression, bullying and harassment from a work colleague.

There are many lessons to be learned by all who work and manage people by reading this book - see the reviews www.sheilapantry.com/books/1856046133.html

Managing Stress and Conflict in Libraries
Sheila Pantry OBE Facet Publishing, June 2007
ISBN-10: 1856046133. ISBN-13: 978-1856046138.

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