Health risk management is about identifying and controlling health risks before they can cause problems.
When companies start to take the health of their workforce seriously, often they concentrate on wellbeing and health surveillance. But there is little point in making sure workers are fit and well when they come to work if they face risks while they are doing the job that affect their health. Then the health surveillance is going to pick up problems. So it’s absolutely vital that health risks are identified and assessed so that appropriate control measure are put in place.
(© HSE – Health risk management. A practical guide for managers in
small and medium-sized enterprises)
Hazardous chemicals– if inhaled can cause asthma, bronchitis or cancer; if swallowed cancause poisoning; if spilt onto the skin or splashed into the eyes can cause dermatitis or severeirritation.
Sprains, strains and pains– can be caused by manual lifting of heavy loads. Upper limbdisorders (ULDs), so called repetitive strain injury (RSI), can happen if the work- station is poorlydesigned so that people have to adopt awkward body positions.
Noise– noise levels which are too high (eg having to shout to be heard) can lead to deafness orconditions such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Vibration – too much vibration, eg from continual use of powered hand tools, can lead todebilitating diseases such as vibration white finger.
Ionising radiation – eg exposure to X-rays, can cause burns, sickness and cancer. Non-ionisingradiation such as infra-red and ultra-violet radiation and lasers can all damage the eyes and skin.
Extremes of temperature, pressure and humidity – can affect people’s ability to work safelyand can cause harmful changes within their bodies, such as heat stress and ‘the bends’ (pressure).
Hazardous micro-organisms – eg bacteria, if inhaled, swallowed, accidentally injected into theskin, splashed into the eyes or allowed to contaminate skin cuts can cause disease, allergy or toxiceffects. While the majority of micro-organisms are harmless some can lead to potentially fatalconditions such as legionnaires’ disease and Weil’s disease.
Stress – can affect all employees, not just managers. It is often behind a lot of sickness absences.It can contribute to coronary heart disease and illness caused by high blood pressure.