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HSE inspections target the causes of workplace ill-health

07 January 2018

The food industry needs to pay closer attention to how workplace health risks are managed, warns the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

The HSE is currently undertaking a programme of proactive inspections to review health and safety standards in food manufacturing businesses across the country.

The inspections will focus on two of the main causes of ill-health in the sector today –occupational asthma from exposure to flour dust in bakeries, cake and biscuit manufacturers and grain mills and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – predominantly lower back pain and upper limb disorders from manual handling activities and repetitive tasks across the sector.

The inspection visits follow the release of the HSE Manufacturing sector plan which prioritises the reduction of cases of occupational lung disease and MSDs. Exposure to flour dust is the UK’s second most common cited cause of occupational asthma. MSDs are the most common type of work-related illness in food manufacturing with handling injuries, accounting for around 20% of reported employee injuries (RIDDOR). HSE insists that such ill-health can be prevented when organisations have proper risk control systems in place.

The inspections will ensure measures are being taken by those responsible to protect workers against health risks and HSE will not hesitate to use enforcement to bring about improvements.

HSE has calling on anyone working in the industry to take the time to refresh their knowledge of its advice and guidance, which is freely available on its website.  www.hse.gov.uk


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