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Maintaining safe systems

25 January 2013

Research by GE Capital has shown that 87% of 500 owner managers of SMEs surveyed in the manufacturing sector currently have no scheme in place to encourage staff to exercise and eat healthily

Research by GE Capital has shown that 87% of 500 owner managers of SMEs surveyed in the manufacturing sector currently have no scheme in place to encourage staff to exercise and eat healthily. At the end of a deep recession and with economic recovery still fragile, it is commendable that any have the time and resources available to address staff issues in this way. While healthy workplaces with fewer days lost to sickness undoubtedly boost productivity, surely the focus at present must be on 'hard core' health and safety?

According to HSE figures, last year 151 workers in Britain were killed, 24 of those while working in manufacturing. While this figure represents a record low, it should be taken in context: Many companies were not operating to capacity, some had to shed staff and few took on vulnerable new employees.

HSE estimates that between 25 and 30% of all manufacturing deaths in Britain result from maintenance activity; many are preventable. A Birmingham-based firm was fined recently after one of its workers was injured by a robot. Investigating the case, the HSE found the risk assessment the company had produced had failed to address the risks from maintenance operations or the risks posed by robots within a guarded area.

In a drive to reduce maintenance accidents, The European Healthy Workplaces Campaign of Safe Maintenance 2010/11 has launched in Britain. It will be co-ordinated by EUOSHA and taken forward in Britain by the HSE, TUC, EEF and others. A section of the HSE website has free factsheets, and posters to download. Judith Hackitt, HSE chair comments: Maintenance work is often seen simply as a disruption to normal service, but it is fundamental to the integrity of every system and to the health and safety of workers and the public.”

Carrying out risk assessments and training, providing appropriate PPE and adequate safety mechanisms can prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries. That has to be the priority for companies struggling with the aftermath of the recession. When business is booming again, maybe then companies can start to think about exercise regimes and healthy eating - which surely should be the responsibility of the employee anyway?
 
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