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UK manufacturing directly employs approximately 8.5% of the workforce but has almost double this percentage of reported accidents.

At 16%, the manufacturing sector has a disproportionately high percentage of all reported injuries in the UK.

In this month’s Industry Spotlight, we look at why this might be and how you can reduce the risk profile of your manufacturing business.

Manufacturing is a diverse sector that encompasses a large number of industries and sub-industries; ranging from heavy industries to specialist or delicate operations. They span large employers to those dominated by micro-businesses or the self-employed and include growing industries as well as those in decline. The health or safety hazards are often specific to the processes involved, which differ substantially between industry/subsector.

Why and how?
A number of factors are thought to contribute to the unusually high level of reported injuries in the manufacturing sector.

  • An ageing workforce with 30% over 50 – older workers have fewer accidents, but when they do, their injuries tend to be much worse leading to a greater level of required reporting.
  • Many manufacturing workers suffer ill health from workplace exposures – many manufacturing processes require the use of, or create by-products and waste that can be hazardous to health. Inadequate control and exposure measures leave workers suffering from an illness caused or made worse by their current or most recent job.
  • Hazards during maintenance – analysis of data from recent years indicate that 25-30% of manufacturing industry fatalities in Great Britain was related to maintenance activity.

Undertaking maintenance activities can potentially expose the workers involved (and others) to all sorts of hazards, but there are four issues that merit particular attention because of the severity of the harm that could be involved, and because they are commonly encountered during plant and building maintenance.

  1. Disturbing asbestos
  2. Falls from height
  3. Isolation and permits to work
  4. Falls of heavy items

Managing and reducing your risk profile is an ongoing process and to help reduce your likelihood of accident, ill-health or injury in your business, you should be aware of all the Health & Safety legislation’s that apply to your business.

The ‘six-pack’ is the core set of health and safety regulations which businesses have to be aware of and comprise the following;

  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations
  • Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations
  • Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations

This is not a complete list and you should make yourself aware of any additional regulations which apply to your specific industry sector/subsector.

Should you require assistance in determining what you need to do to be compliant with the laws applicable to your business, Acorn Health & Safety Ltd can provide industry-specific advice and training in the following areas, all of which are relevant to the manufacturing industry:

  • First Aid
  • Fire Safety
  • Manual Handling
  • Health and Safety
  • CoSHH
  • Work at height

Samuel Nesbitt, Health and Safety Consultant