The Risks Of Breathing In Harmful Substances
Harmful Substances

The Risks Of Breathing In Harmful Substances

Every year, thousands of people suffer from breathing in harmful substances such as dust, fumes and vapour. Exposure to these substances can lead to developing asthma, lung scaring and even cancer. It’s a huge risk that workers are subjecting themselves to and we need to raise awareness of the ways to prevent this.

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) are seeking to improve the quality of the UK’s health and safety, especially when it comes to dangerous fumes.


Breathe Freely Initiative

The Breathe Freely Initiative was put into place in April 2015 and initially focused on the construction industry. The BOHS initiative is aimed at reducing and controlling exposure to harmful dust and fumes, which leads to occupational lung disease.

In April 2017, it expanded to the manufacturing sector and is trying to spread awareness and provide helpful ways of preventing lung disease whilst working. Through their website, they also provide ‘The Hi Standard’. The Hi Standard (also known as Health in Industry Management Standard) is a downloadable self-assessment tool that helps managers to better manage workplace health risks.

The tool is aimed at managers responsible for health and safety and will help you to identify strengths and weaknesses and develop action plans.

For more information on the Breathe Freely initiative and The Hi Standard, head over to their website.


LEV (Local Exhaust Ventilation)

LEV (Local Exhaust Ventilation) is equipment that helps prevent workers from breathing in toxic fumes and gets rid of them in a safe way.

The system extracts air from a process as a way of controlling and reducing the workers exposure to dust, hazardous fumes and vapour.

Tubes carry dust away from the workbench and are transported into a filter/fan unit. The filter then removes all the dust from the air, with the fan working as a motor to move air through the system.

This is not uncommon for a LEV system to provide extraction for multiple machines at a time.

When it comes to buying LEV equipment for your business, there are some important things to consider. Firstly, figure out which jobs cause exposure to these harmful substances and seek professional help to advise you on the right equipment to purchase.

We believe its crucial that you have trusted installers, making sure everything works properly and flows correctly and that you are provided with a User Manual and Log Book.

When using LEV equipment, it’s always important that the system is maintained and checked properly, that employees are fully trained on how to use it and that repairs are dealt with as soon as there is an issue.

As part of the ‘Health And Safety At Work Act 1974’, it is a legal requirement for employers to maintain working conditions, and using LEV equipment can come under this if your workplace is prone to harmful fumes.

LEV equipment must be tested at least every 14 months to ensure the safety and quality of the machinery.


How Sickness Affects Your Business

Sickness absence caused by occupational hazards is something that costs the UK a lot of money. You may not think it, but according to Breathe Freely, it costs the UK £1.6 billion to fund sickness absence. Where does all this money go?

Whilst the cost of sickness absence usually includes lost time and sick pay, it could also lead to extra wages, overtime working, recruitment costs for replacement staff, medical and legal costs and even fines if the employer is at fault.

Another negative effect that occupational sickness can have on your business is how it affects your reputation as a company.
Multiple reports on work based injuries happening in your company down to exposure to harmful substances to your workers, people are less likely to do business with you and this reflects badly on your company.

This will also have a negative effect on your staff; creating bad morale and leading them to thinking their safety isn’t a priority, with potential to leave the company. Having a good hygiene programme can go a long way in helping your business in the long run, having both a short and long term impact on your workforce.


Help Great Britain Work Well

‘Help Great Britain Work Well’ is a new strategy from the HSE that plans to keep Great Britain’s occupational health and safety as one of the best in the world and improve on it even further.

They are challenging businesses to take action against occupational related injuries and to try everything they can to prevent these.

Over 1.3 million people suffer from various ill-health issues from work, and in 2015/2016, 30.4 million working days were lost due to work related injuries.

The most common causes of work related injuries are back and limb conditions, lung disease and stress. This goes to show how important protecting yourself against harmful substances can be, with lung disease being one of the top causes of sickness.

They have 6 main points of action:

Acting Together: This is to promote the fact that health and safety is everyone’s responsibilities, it shouldn’t fall down to one person or team.
Tackling Ill Health: This is to highlight and tackle the costs of ill health in work.
Managing Risk Well: This is to promote the benefits of having good health and safety culture and to share examples and give advice to businesses.
Supporting Small Employers: This is aimed at giving small businesses the right advice and guidance so they know how to properly manage workplace risks.
Keeping Pace With Change: This is to keep up to date with current health and safety challenges and to anticipate new challenges that workplaces might face.
Sharing Our Success: This is to get businesses to take pride in Great Britain’s reputation for health and safety and to promote its success.

If you want to get involved ‘Help Great Britain Work Well’, use the hashtag #HelpGBWorkWell on social media and join the conversation.

Wurkplace Limited can provide multiple different Health and Safety options, from online training courses to occupational health & safety management to businesses throughout the UK.

We can help your business prevent occupational sickness and provide health surveillance through risk assessments. Click here for more information on our online courses.

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