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Breathe Freely is a campaign from the BOHS (British Occupational Hygiene Society) helping to control exposures to prevent occupational lung disease in industry and aimed at reducing occupational lung disease in the UK, which causes significant debilitating ill-health and an estimated 13,000 deaths per year.

Running for just over two years now, the campaign has gained unprecedented levels of support and delivered a wide range of resources and materials for employers, to help them better understand how to control workplace health risks. It’s about raising awareness of not just the problem but also how to do something about it

2017 was an exceptional year for Breathe Freely. In May they launched the 2nd phase of the campaign, which targets the manufacturing sector and focuses on welding. They then launched the new  Breathe Freely mini-site with tools and materials focusing on manufacturing and especially welding

There were public roadshows organised in the UK to raise awareness about occupational lung disease in the sector and educate on methods to control exposures to hazards. One of our Directors, Danny, attended the Breathe Freely in Construction Breakfast Roadshow at Brunel’s SS Great Britain in September and new Roadshows will be taking place across the UK in 2018.

The Breathe Freely workshop events, sponsored by RVT Group, covered topics such as looking at some of the new developments including the HI standard tool for managing workplace health risks, and looked at the new course, Certificate in Controlling Health Risks in Construction (CCHRC).

These events helped to improve understanding of workplace health risks and importantly, equip people to better recognise and manage the risks on construction sites.

In 2018, the campaign will focus on the development of new tools and targeted events to promote awareness about occupational lung disease in the manufacturing industry. They will work even closer with their partners and the industry to prevent ill health in manufacturing and will be launching the new control selector tool.

They also plan to organise new targeted seminars to raise awareness about occupational lung disease

Occupational hygiene is the preventative side of occupational health: recognising the health hazards in the workplace, understanding the real risks these pose to workers’ health, and then controlling their exposures to them. It helps employers and employees to understand the health risks, and then improve working conditions and working practices through suitable, inexpensive, effective and practical exposure control measures.

Good occupational health helps promote employee relations. Healthy workers are more engaged, motivated and productive and they stay in their jobs longer. Having a supportive culture by investing in an effective health protection programme pays off by encouraging innovation, responsibility, reliability and sustained performance. Look after your people and your people will look after your business (Investors in People). Companies who keep their employees (through good health and a supportive culture) will benefit from minimising their own skills shortage and maintaining stability and a core level of experienced workers. Conversely, those who don’t will face difficulties in managing current projects and planning future ones. Exposure control is key to protection, but the invisible nature of many toxic substances coupled with the long latency of their ill effects, means that controls aren’t always considered as important as they should be. Manufacturing and construction workers are at high risk from fumes given off by welding and hot cutting processes which give off very fine particles that cause cancer, COPD and an increased susceptibility to pneumonia.

Comfort and fit are key to the effectiveness of many types of PPE. So, if a tight-fitting respirator doesn’t have a good seal with the wearer’s face then the contaminants in the air will still be breathed in; or if gloves are uncomfortable or overalls make the user overheat, they won’t be worn or they’ll be taken off too soon. But if workers are consulted whilst selecting PPE then preferences can often be accommodated safely, and if the equipment fits, is comfortable and works it is much more likely to be worn.

In short, good occupational hygiene intervention is good for your business, whether it be from a financial benefit, protecting the health of your staff in the longer term, or ensuring you have a strong commitment in terms of legal and social responsibility, all resulting in the protection and enhancement of your reputation

If you’ve any questions on work related ill health we can help.  From support with risk assessments through to occupational health, the provision of face fit testing and training on specific hazards such as asbestos we are committed helping keep businesses and their employees safe.For further information, contact us

There are many ways individuals and organisations can support the campaign and promote the message of good health in manufacturing. For more information visit their website or email breathefreely@bohs.org