Mapping the Dangers in the Workplace
None of us who work in the construction industry can fail to be aware that it’s one of the most dangerous sectors in which to work here in the UK. Despite many years of decreasing figures in the accidents and injuries statistics and the development of stringent health and safety regulations designed to make the workplace safer, some of the risks just cannot be avoided. Following the correct policies and procedures at work is vital for ensuring safety and minimising risks involved. Here in the UK, we’re lucky that we have the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to enforce the safety regulations, unlike in some other European countries where the rules and regs apply but there is no effective procedure for enforcement – this makes the UK one of the safest countries in the world in which to work in the construction sector, but risks still exist.
The HSE has recently published an interactive map of the UK that highlights the most dangerous areas in which to work. The latest research suggests that we lose more than 23 million workdays due to work related ill health and more than 4 million days due to workplace injuries. This costs the UK economy more than £14 billion every year – not particularly inspiring in the current uncertain economic climate.
When it comes to location, it seems that ill-health incidents in the workplace are most common in the East Midlands, followed by Wales and then Yorkshire and Humber. As for fatal accidents in the workplace, Scotland and the North West suffer the most, followed by the South West. Non-fatal injuries paint a slightly different picture with the East Midlands suffering the most, closely followed by Wales, then the South West.
The interactive map can also be used to gain insights on which sectors report the most injuries with agriculture, forestry and fishing accounting for the highest number, followed by the construction sector and then food services.
Some of the most common health conditions caused, or exacerbated by work are as follows:
Work Related Stress – responsible for 9 million lost work days with the highest rates being amongst health and social care professionals and teachers.
Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders – these affect the muscles, joints and tendons and are most likely to be caused by manual handling which is necessary in the construction industry, nursing and personal care and skilled agriculture activities.
Work-related Respiratory Diseases – this is caused by the general working environment and dusts from stone, cement, bricks, etc. Nearly 30,000 people last year self-reported breathing or lung problems that were caused or made worse by the work they carried out. The construction industry is particularly prone to hazardous dusts, as we’ve stressed several times in the past.
Work-related Skin Disease – this category covers types of skin diseases ranging from minor irritations, through severe dermatitis and even skin cancers. We’re warned that working with wet hands and soaps or cleansing agents are the most likely cause of skin problems such as dermatitis. When it comes to skin cancers, it’s often working in the sun that is to blame and we regularly highlight this, urging our readers to take extra care when working outdoors in the sunshine.