A new Europe-wide campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with carrying out maintenance has been launched.
An estimated 20% of workplace accidents result from maintenance activity, with common causes of injuries including falls from height and failure to properly isolate machinery, so that it restarts while being worked on.
The new European Healthy Workplaces Campaign on Safe Maintenance 2010-2011 aims to encourage workers to carry out maintenance in a safe, structured way, following five basic rules:
• Making the work area safe
• Using appropriate equipment
• Working as planned
• Making final checks
The campaign is co-ordinated by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), which will be running a variety of activities and events. There is also a dedicated website with a bank of free resources, including posters, leaflets, factsheets and a new film on safe maintenance starring animated safety mascot, Napo.
Visit the campaign website at: http://hw.osha.europa.eu
Here in the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is also taking part in the initiative and has launched a new Safe Maintenance website: www.hse.gov.uk/safemaintenance
One in four people in the UK regularly work all day without taking a break, according to a new survey conducted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).
The poll also found that over a third (36%) of staff regularly work through their lunch break and nearly a quarter (23%) take no lunch break at all.
In addition, 31% of workers said that they experienced physical pain and 42% felt stressed at least once a week, leading the CSP to express concern that bad working habits are posing a serious risk to the health of employees.
Phil Gray, Chief Executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy said: "Physiotherapists are concerned that overworking and not taking breaks is actually costing employers and their staff. Employees pay the price with their health and there is a cost to employers in reduced productivity and performance. Work is good for us and can contribute to physical and mental well-being - but not when overworking means people don't have the time or energy to look after their own health or when staff are at work but are not fit for work.”
More than 300 people suffered major injuries in the woodworking industry last year and over 1,100 were off work for more than three days following an accident. In an attempt to reduce these figures, HSE has launched a range of new resources.
Its newly revamped website offers advice for both workers and employers, including information on health topics such as wood dust, manual handling and noise and key safety areas such as fire, slips and trips and vehicles.
There are also information sheets, video clips, a range of FAQs and specific guidance for those in the sawmill, furniture manufacture and mattress industries.
One of the major risks in the woodworking sector is contact with moving machinery, and the new site offers step-by-step advice on safe practice when using saws, sanders, planers and other equipment.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has launched a new website to help interns find out more about their rights, after estimating that one in three are working for free.
The number of internships has risen in recent years, with increasing numbers of young people using them to gain work experience and break into their chosen industry. However, the TUC has expressed concern that many employers are taking advantage of these young workers, seeing them as a source of free labour.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Whether they are unscrupulous or genuinely unaware of the rules, too many employers are ripping off talented young people by employing them in unpaid internships that are not only unfair but, in most cases, probably illegal.
“Internships can be a positive experience and offer a kick-start to a career that many young people value. But as more and more graduates are being forced to turn to internships in place of traditional entry level jobs, we're concerned that a growing number of interns are at risk of real exploitation.
“It is vital that we crack down on those internships that offer little but hard graft for no reward. Employers need to know that there's no such thing as free labour.”
Find out more at: www.rightsforinterns.org.uk
The information on accidents and prosecutions featured in this section comes from a number of different sources including the Health and Safety Executive and regional and national newspapers.
“It’s clear that becoming an adult does not happen overnight and doesn’t happen without support, yet many of our policies and support services are based on arbitrary age limits. We want the new coalition Government to recognise that the period of late teens to early-20s is a vital stage of life and treat it as such.
"Everyone should be able to expect appropriate support that enables them to become an independent adult with a job, a home and a stable future.”
Joyce Moseley, Chief Executive of charity Catch 22