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From the CEO's Desk

06 December 2016

The Health & Safety Executive published the 2015/16 health and safety statistics on 2nd November. With 1.3 million people working in Great Britain currently suffering from work-related illness, it is clear to see that the statistics support the HSE’s campaign to tackle ill health with the ‘Helping Great Britain Work Well’ initiative.

The statistics highlight the areas that still require focus and attention. This includes working days lost due to illness or non fatal injury, up 11.3% from the year before at 30.4 million, and the number of non fatal worker injuries 621,000, a 1.6% increase from the year before. These injuries resulted in 152,000 absences over seven days and 469,000 absences of up to seven days. Some improvements are evident, however, with the welcome reduction of injuries reported under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences). The 2015/6 statistics reported 72,000 injuries whilst 2014/5 reported 76,000 injuries.

Collectively these statistics demonstrate that further work is needed to ensure the “good health and safety is good for business” message builds real momentum. The Federation continues to be dedicated to this cause, striving to change the public mind-set towards occupational safety and health, and altering behaviours and approaches.

We have been concerned of late with the impact of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act that gave local authorities responsibility for public health spending. Occupational health still does not appear to be part of that budget. To find out more about this issue, we commissioned an investigation into local county and unitary authorities to find out respective spend on work related respiratory disease. Through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, 402 councils were contacted.

Of the 217 local authorities that responded to the FOI, just eight reported allocating any funding to respiratory health and within those eight; only four stated that the funding was specifically related to in - work projects. The funding was mostly supporting employee focused smoking cessation programmes. The investigation showed that the vast majority of councils across the UK are not investing in work related respiratory health programmes.

Central government has previously prioritised other health initiatives, including preventing premature deaths within the NHS, publishing dedicated campaigns on cancer, heart disease and improving fitness, without mentioning workplace ill health. The Federation is committed to ensuring that the importance of occupational health is considered and that in the future; all conversations on general health include occupational health.

In a response to this, the BSIF has developed a report launched at The Houses of Parliament on 16th November, at a dinner hosted by Stephen Pound MP (pictured). This expands the conversation on seeing Occupational Health as part of the greater Public Health debate. The report will be distributed to local authorities, outlining how they can achieve positive outcomes and bolster their strategies.

The advice within this report includes:

  • Dedicating a set amount of their budget to tackling work related respiratory disease
  • Commissioning targeted publicity campaigns to raise awareness of the diseases
  • Supporting training in the correct use of Respiratory Protective Equipment
  • Ensuring that all tight fitting Respiratory Protective Equipment is competently face fitted by Fit2Fit Accredited face fitters
  • Ensuring that all personal Protective Equipment is supplied by Registered Safety Suppliers
  • Accessing the willing support of BSIF members

The full report can be downloaded via the BSIF website. We look forward to updating you on the results of this activity in the coming months.