This month’s news

On-board accidents

Most occupational accidents aboard merchant ships occur while crew are
performing daily routine duties, scientists have found. A study of Danish
merchant ships over a five-year period found 1,993 accidents, of which 209 resulted
in permanent disability and 27 were fatal. It recommended focusing on workplace
instructions for important functions and the prevention of accidents caused by
walking around the ship.

Miners’ compensation

Compensation pay-outs to miners suffering from vibration white finger have
now topped £0.5bn, according to energy minister Brian Wilson. The figure was
revealed during a visit to a vibration white finger testing centre at Stoke on
Trent in February.

Blood-lead monitoring

There has been an appreciable fall in the total number of workers under
surveillance for blood-lead levels since 1999/2000, the HSE has said. In its
figures for 2000/2001, it found the proportion of men with relatively high
blood-lead measurements remained broadly level. For women the proportion rose,
but numbers were small and tended to fluctuate from year to year, it added

Diabetes guidelines

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has issued clinical
guidelines for the management of type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes. They
cover the screening for and management of retinopathy and the prevention of
renal disease. A diabetes national service framework will be published by the
Government later this year.

Safety has low priority

Most industry leaders still put safety way down the list of their business
priorities, according to a survey by pollster Mori for the British Safety
Council. Generating profits for shareholders remains the top priority, among 84
per cent of the 100 people polled. Only one in six, or 16 per cent, singled out
improving safety in the working environment.

Deadly effects of alcohol

Alcohol misuse is costing the NHS up to £3bn a year, with more than 28,000
hospital admissions caused by alcohol dependence or poisoning, the charity
Alcohol Concern has warned. Alcohol is implicated in 33,000 deaths a year – a
33 per cent rise since 1984. More than 5,000 people a year died in England and
Wales as a direct result of drink, it added.

European week for safety and health

The theme for this autumn’s European week for safety and health is the issue
of stress and will begin on 14 October. This is now the largest annual
workplace health and safety event in Europe, said the HSE. Action packs for
this year’s event will be available in May.

First aid advice update

The HSE has revised its basic advice on first aid at work, and its electric
shock first aid procedures, leaflets and posters. They are designed to help
first aiders minimise injuries and illness until expert help arrives.

Vibration levels

A research report quantifying the levels of vibration from tractors has been
published by the HSE. The amount of vibration to which an operator was likely
to be exposed was measured, with researchers concluding further investigation
was needed into whole-body vibration emission levels.

A study of various types of aprons used for protection against drop forging
projectiles has been carried out by the Health and Safety Executive. It
concluded that plate-link aprons were the optimum choice for use in such
applications because of the protection they afforded.

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