Today marks the final day of Great Britain Health and Wellbeing Week 2016, so we thought that we would take some time to reflect of the aims of the movement, and what this means for workplace health. In recent times, it has come to light that the 'health' aspect of 'health and safety' has been somewhat neglected over the years, which has led to a call for increased awareness about the health issues facing British workers.
In order to encourage lasting and continual improvements to workplace health in the UK, this week has been all about encouraging individuals to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, as well as that of others. This has included a particular emphasis on the workplace, where employees will need to understand the possible impact that ill health could have on their working life. For employers, this also calls for a need to monitor and prevent workplace health issues, which may arise from hazards and working conditions.
Here are Just Some of the Most Prominent Workplace Health Issues:
(Breathing protection signs)
Cause: Respiratory diseases are caused by hazardous substances in the air, such as dusts, fumes, gases and more.
Effects: Inhalation of these substances can cause damage to the lungs and airways, and can sometimes lead to damage in other parts of the body, should hazardous agents spread to other areas. Illnesses caused by this damage include, asthma, rhinitis, COPD, pneumoconiosis, cancer and more.
Prevention: These diseases can be prevented by conducting regular inspections of workplaces, following recommended guidelines, educating employees, and providing the correct PPE.
(Manual handling signs)
Cause: These disorders are often caused by the repetitive bending, twisting or lifting involved with handling heavy items, as well as by certain postures and repetitive behaviours.
Effects: Tendon strain, tension neck syndrome, epicondylitis and degenerative disc disease, are just some of the conditions caused by manual operations. These can not only be incredibly painful, but can also lead to a loss of mobility and range of motion.
Prevention: These conditions can be prevented in the workplace, by using a combination of tailored information and equipment, to encourage safe and healthy working practices.
Cause: Occupational cancer can be cause by exposure to radiatation, chemicals and other dangerous substances, and is closely linked with the previously mentioned respiratory issues.
Effects: Exposure to certain materials can cause lung, breast, liver and skin cancers, as well as a variety of other, rarer forms of the disease. In many cases, this also causes the disease to spread to other parts of the body.
Prevention: Develop a programme which regulates and controls the presence of carcinogens in the workplace, while monitoring possible exposure. As always, the proper equipment and working procedures should be followed.
(Hand protection signs)
Cause: Like many workplace health issues, these are also caused by exposure to certain materials and chemicals, which can happen in almost all workplaces.
Effects: One of the most common skin issues experienced in the workplace is dermatitis, but this can also range to issues such as urticaria, and in the most deadly cases:skin cancer.
Prevention: The most simple and effective solution to this issue, is to provide protective equipment and clothing, in order to prevent dangerous chemicals from coming into contact with the skin. If possible, these substances should be avoided altogether, but if this is not possible, symptoms of possible skin issues should be regularly monitored.
(Vibration Safety Signs)
Cause: Vibration injuries are a rather common workplace injury, usually caused by the use of vibrating power tools for extended periods of time.
Effects: Symptoms of these injuries can include numbness, whitening of the fingers, and a loss of dexterity/movement.
Prevention: Vibration injuries can be reduced by limiting exposure, providing specialised equipment to reduce vibration, and using the correct protective apparel, such as anti-vibration gloves.
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