The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a
two-year initiative to tackle work-related upper-limb disorders (WRULDs) in the
The initiative, which began in April, is targeting workers
engaged in pre-print activities, operators of printing machines and those
employed in finishing activities.
Inspectors from the HSE’s employment medical advisory
service will be visiting printers across the country, looking at jobs
presenting risks and assessing the control measures in place to reduce WRULDs.
Where the risks of injury are not being adequately
controlled, they will be advising on what should be done to comply with the
As well as improving standards and reducing risks, the
initiative aims to gather examples of good practice to be shared across the
industry, helping it to manage the jobs that cause more WRULDs than any others.
The decision to target WRULDs in printing arose from an HSE
study carried out among printers during 2002/3.
It found that WRULDs were poorly understood, with several of
the printers interviewed themselves suffering symptoms of a repetitive-type
injury. Employers were also often unaware of the need to report these injuries
under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences
The HSE has estimated that, in the UK as a whole, 4.1
million working days were lost in 2001/02 through musculoskeletal disorders,
mainly affecting the upper limbs or neck, caused or made worse by work.
On average, each suffer took an estimated 17.8 days off in
that 12-month period.
Dale Wallis, of the British Printing Industries Federation,
and a member of the Health and Safety Commission’s printing industry advisory
committee, said: "Upper-limb disorders can be successfully managed by
employers who take time to see which jobs could cause harm, doing something to
reduce the risk, and helping sufferers back to work."
The initiative has also been backed by the Graphics Print
and Media Union (GPMU).