Sick workers take 13 million days off a year year

One in every 11 people suffers from ill-health caused, or exacerbated by, their working conditions and environment, employers were warned yesterday at the launch of the biggest health in the workplace initiative to date.

Each year at least 750,000 workers take 13 million days off because of work-related illness at a total cost to the taxpayer of around pounds 4-5bn.

This includes compensation claims, loss of business due to bad publicity, and the need to retrain or recruit new staff, the Health and Safety Executive said.

Frank Davies, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission, acknowledged that its campaign could lead to more litigation by workers against their employers but that this could be "a good thing", he said. "Workers should draw matters to the attention of employers because everyone should be involved in the promotion of good health."

Sir John Harvey Jones, the former ICI chairman and now celebrity management guru, who features in the HSE campaign video, said it was a "crime" that any worker should suffer work-related illness.

A 1990 Labour Force Survey in England and Wales found that musco-skeletal disorders - strains, sprains, back problems - were the most frequently reported problem with 600,000 cases; this was followed by stress/depression (100,000); deafness/other ear conditions (100,000); lower respiratory tract diseases (80,000 - one quarter of which were asthma); and skin disease (55,000 cases).

One of the problems highlighted at the press launch in London yesterday, was the risk of asthma among bakery workers exposed daily to flour dust.

The HSE's pounds 1.5m campaign, "Good Health is Good Business", will focus on small and medium-sized enterprises with up to 200 employers, but will also involve GPs and other health professionals who can influence employers. A television advertising campaign begins tomorrow highlighting the dangers of vibration, dust, noise, repetitive movements, and handling of chemicals.

David Eves, deputy director general of the HSE, said it would not "hesitate in taking action", against employers who put their workforce at risk.

There had been 260 prosecutions under the 1988 Coshh (Control of substances hazardous to health) regulations, Mr Eves said, and the first custodial sentence had recently been imposed on the director of a company which had recklessly ignored safety advice while dismantling a building containing asbestos.

Ann Holgarth, a former nurse who was forced to give up work in 1990 because of a severe back injury, urged better education for employers and employees on how to avoid musco-skeletal problems. Ms Holgarth fell on the ward but continued working. "Apart from my ill health, I suffered job bereavement - nursing was my profession and something that I had always wanted to do and that was taken away from me..."

t For a free "Good Health is Good Business" campaign pack contact 0345 181819.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Installation Manager

£35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Tax Investigations Manager/Senior Manager

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Cameron Kennedy Recruitment: This rapidl...

Scrum Master - Southampton, Hampshire - Excellent Package

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited:...

Senior Scrum Master - Hampshire - £47k

£47000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Key skil...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice