Health risk management

StressAs a manager or company owner, you will be concerned if your employees’ health is affected by their work. Management skills can be applied to preventing ill health as part of running a business. The link between the workplace cause and later ill health is not always obvious.

This week’s article is intended to help the owners and managers of small and medium sized enterprises to control health risks arising from work.

  • Approximately 1 million people suffer a workplace injury each year.
  • 2 million people suffer ill health caused or made worse by work.
  • Altogether 30 million working days a year are lost due to workplace injuries and ill health.


The two HSE cases this week both look at tragic accidents that shouldn’t have happened

  • The explosion blew the lid and other equipment through the corrugated panels on the roof of the factory and into a neighbouring car park.
  • The train started up and ran over his fingers. The child’s fingers required surgery and stitches but he made a good recovery.

As ever, if you have a subject that you would like us to cover one week, please contact us by phone 01458 253682, email or via our Facebook page  or by Twitter.


Health risk management

Each year more people become ill as a result of their work than are killed or injured in industrial accidents. While most diseases caused by work do not kill, they can involve years of pain, suffering and discomfort for those affected. This might include musculo-skeletal problems, respiratory disease, dermatitis and noise induced hearing loss.

Find out if you have a problem

The starting point in managing health risks is finding the hazards in your workplace, and there may be a wide range.

What is a hazard?

A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm (substances or machines, methods of work and other aspects of work organisation). ACOP to Management Regulations 1999.

Some hazards to health are not as immediately obvious as others. For example some substances give off invisible vapours and dusts, whilst people “get used to” noise or fail to realise the stress that they are putting their body or mind under.



So check your workplace to see what hazards are there

The starting point in managing health risks is finding the hazards in your workplace, and there may be a wide range. So let’s start with pinpointing those hazards.

To pinpoint hazards:

  • Have a walk around the workplace – take a fresh look at the way employees work, look at what they work with, look at what is already done to protect their health. Do they, for example, have to dobarrells
  1. reaching above shoulder height
  2. repetitive handling;
  3. over-reaching;
  4. strenuous pulling or pushing;
  • Talk to employees – ask them if their work affects their health
  1. are they suffering from headaches;
  2. do they get skin irritations;
  3. or back problems;
  4. is their hearing being affected?
  • get advice from suppliers of equipment, chemicals and other materials used at work

Suppliers of hazardous substances are required to provide information to users which includes:

  1. safety data sheets;
  2. proper labelling designed to make hazards and necessary controls clear.

Some suppliers may also provide:

  1. training in the use of their products;
  2. workplace surveys on exposure to health hazards
  • Read safety data sheets, manufacturers’ and suppliers’ guidance.

Remember, some things such as radiation and micro-organisms cannot be detected just by looking.

Lifestyle and work

Of couBack painrse some health problems can be caused both at work and at home. Handling chemicals in the workplace can cause dermatitis, as can washing powder used at home. Lifting heavy loads at work can cause back injury, as can, for example, moving furniture at home and leisure activities. Some existing health conditions can be made worse by work; a heavy smoker is more likely to suffer breathing problems following exposure to chemicals at work.

Be aware of the overlaps between work and non-work health risks. Legally, as an employer you need to tackle only work-related risks but many companies do not distinguish between the two. They deal with health risks at work and also promote the need for employees to look after their health by, for example, giving advice on smoking and drinking, diet, and exercise.

This is one company’s reason: ‘If someone does not turn up for work because of a bad back caused by work here or in their garden, the result for us is the same – no work’.

Decide what to do

Having found out what health hazards are present in your workplace you need now to decide what needs to be done so that your employees’ health is not harmed. It may be that what you already do is enough but you cannot decide this properly until you have gone through the following steps.

Who might be harmed?

First, you need to identify who may be at risk. Think about those workers, for example, who handle chemicals, operate noisy machines or who have to lift heavy or awkward loads manually. Don’t forget the risks to cleaners, maintenance and part-time workers. Could other people be harmed by what goes on in your place of work, for instance sales representatives, suppliers, customers and members of the public?

If you are a builder, for example, you need to consider your customer: Are there vulnerable people in the area such as:

  1. children,
  2. the elderly or
  3. people with health conditions?

How big are the risks?

Risk is the likelihood that the harm from a particular hazard is realised. The extent of the risk covers the number of people affected and the consequences for them. Therefore risk reflects both the likelihood  and severity of the harm.

The next step is to decide how big the risks to health in your workplace are.

For example, if the job in question involves the use of a product that gives off hazardous fumes then you must consider:risk-assessment

  • the amount of the substance in the air;
  • how often the job is done. Is it all day every day or once or twice a year?
  • Is it carried out in an enclosed or open space?
  • the work method – how the product is used, e.g. if it is sprayed the risk will be greater than if brushed on;
  • the number of people that could be affected – is just one person working with the paint or many?
  • Could their work affect others?
  • what could go wrong?
  • are the precautions (exhaust ventilation, personal protective equipment) already taken sufficient? How do they compare with good practice and HSE or ‘trade’ guidance?

Answering these sorts of question is what is meant by risk assessment. Further guidance can be found for free here. It is useful to write down the results of risk assessments as you may need to look at them again. You are required to record ‘significant findings’ if you have five or more employees.

Remember also to review your risk assessment when the work changes and new materials are handled. It is easier to review it if it is written down.

What if a worker is ill?

You need to find out whether an employee’s ill health could have been caused or made worse by work. If the answer is yes – Ask these questions:

  • What work has the employee been doing and how long for?
  • Does the employee work with harmful materials or in such a way that his/her health could become affected?
  • When did signs of ill health occur?
  • What is the opinion of his/her GP and any occupational health advisers?
  • Have the risks of the work activity been assessed?
  • Does the risk assessment indicate that precautions are needed?
  • Is the employee trained both for the job and in the use of any equipment used to control risk?
  • Is protective clothing provided and used for the work?
  • Could activities outside of work have caused ill health?

Do you need to set up health surveillance?

Health surveillance is about systematically watching out for early signs of work-related ill health in employees exposed to certain health risks so that measures can be taken to protect their health. It is not a substitute for controlling health risks at work and will only work if findings are acted upon.

It comprises a range of techniques from simple methods, such as looking for skin damage on hands from using certain chemicals, through more technical checks such as hearing tests, to more involved clinical examinations. It is required by law for certain jobs.

Check the legal requirements or seek advice if in doubt. Health records should be kept. Employees and their representatives should be involved in the early development of health surveillance programmes. As certain procedures can include taking samples and other personal information, respecting confidentiality is essential.

Take action

If you decide that improvements are needed, then act on your decisions using ERIC.

Start by seeing whether you can Eliminate whatever is causing the health risks.

If you cannot do this the next step is to Reduce the risks and so reduce the chance of the health of employees being affected. For example exposure to chemicals can be reduced by automated handling, enclosing the process or local exhaust ventilation.

The next step is to see if the risk can be Isolated

Exposure to noise levels can be Isolated by enclosing noisy machines and equipment with noise proof enclosures.

The final part of ERIC is to introduce Control measures such as redesigning or organising the work differently, or limiting the amount of time people are exposed to the risk.

Sometimes it is necessary to provide personal protection (PPE) such as respirators, ear defenders and face visors, as well as other measures. For example a local ventilation system may be provided for pouring a hazardous chemical so that the operator does not breathe in the fumes. However, if the chemical can also cause skin burns, protective clothing, gloves and a visor may be needed.Protective Clothing

Because PPE protects only the wearer, and only if properly worn all of the time, it is better to give priority to measures which protect numbers of employees rather than individuals. PPE can be expensive to buy and maintain. Employees will need to be trained and supervised so that it is properly worn at all times.

The use of PPE at work is governed by the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. It should always be considered as a last not a first resort.

Check what you have done

Once you have gone through the processes of deciding what to do and taking action, you need to check the result. There is little value in making changes without knowing if they are working.

There are a number of practical checks that you can make. These include checking that, for example:

  • any set target for reducing health risks has been reached;
  • ventilation systems, noise enclosures, automated handling equipment are working properly;
  • records of sickness absence and work-related ill health show a reduced number of cases;
  • personal protection is being properly used, cleaned and maintained.

Remember that if for any reason you:

  • make changes to the work process;
  • introduce new materials into the workplace;
  • change the way in which risks are controlled;

you will need to check whether these changes have reduced or increased risks to health. Do not assume that everyone will make changes and pick up new skills without instruction and training.

Finally, remember that health risk management should be seen as a rolling programme of improvement.

Hopefully this article has given you ideas to help you control health risks arising from work.

If you have any topic you would like us to cover in this newsletter  please contact us by phone 01458 253682, or email.

Training Courses

We have three courses set up, one in Bridgwater on 14th October and 2 in Glasgow but these are all fully booked.

However we are running the following courses:


Under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure they provide adequately trained persons to cover their First-aid requirements. The following course has been approved and recognised by the HSE as meeting the basic requirements set by the regulations.

Who Is This Course Suitable For?

  • Smaller companiesFirst Aid CPR
  • Offices and shops with less than 50 employees and other low risk environments
  • Employees working off site
  • Self-employed people
  • Anyone who wants to learn first aid and assist in an emergency situation.


  • First Aid Kits
  • How to manage an incident
  • Treating an unconscious casualty
  • Resuscitation and CPR
  • Asthma
  • Choking
  • Chest Pains
  • Seizures
  • Bleeding
  • Shock
  • Burns and Scalds
  • Care and Communication
  • Open Forum

Course Duration:  1 day

COURSE REF                                DATE(s)                                                LOCATION

WSG. EFA . 1502                                    Thursday 15th October 2015                                                Taunton Racecourse

Fee: £120 to include Course notes, mid-morning & afternoon refreshments, Finger buffet lunch and a Certificate of Training   (Fee subject to VAT)





CDM Regulations 2015 – For the Smaller Builder

Course Objective

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) come into force on the 6th of April 2015, and will apply to all construction projects in the UK incl. Domestic projects

This CDM 2015 awareness training course has been developed to provide smaller builders and tradesmen, especially those who haven’t dealt with CDM before, with an understanding of their role and responsibilities under CDM 2015.

Seminar Outline

  • Overview of the Industry accident rateCDM Regulations 2015
  • The Legal framework
  • Enforcement
  • Risk Assessment
  • CDM 2015 and the duty holders: Client, PD, Designers
  • Principal Contractors duties
  • Contractors duties
  • Construction Phase Plan
  • Site Safety Management

Benefits of Attending

This course give an overview of the requirements for smaller builders and domestic clients and how the regulations apply to all construction projects from minor repairs and decorating works through to building a new house for a domestic client.


Course Duration: 1/2 day – Morning   09.30 – 12.30

COURSE REF                                DATE(s)                                                LOCATION

CDM2015 1508                                       Tuesday 20th October 2015                                                 Taunton Racecourse

Fee: £80 to include Course notes, Coffee on arrival & mid-morning refreshments and a Certificate of Training   (Fee subject to VAT)







Course Objective – Training /CPD Certificate issued

Asbestos awareness training is essential for employees whose work holds the potential to expose them to asbestos. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 puts a requirement on employers to ensure that their staff have undergone suitable asbestos awareness training so that they are aware of the potential dangers they may face and also the procedures they must follow in the event they are working in the vicinity of asbestos containing materials (ACMs)

Who Is This Course Suitable For?Asbestos Training

The main groups of workers that are deemed to be at risk from asbestos exposure and therefore the groups most requiring asbestos awareness training are as follows:

  • General Maintenance Staff.
  • Electricians, Plumbers & Gas Fitters. Painters & Decorators.
  • Construction & Demolition Workers. Joiners and Plasterers.
  • Computing & Telecommunications Engineers.
  • Heating & Ventilation Engineers.
  • Roofers.
  • Architects & Building Surveyors
  • Fire & Burglar Alarm Installers


  • Asbestos- a  history of use
  • What is Asbestos
  • Amosite (Brown) – Chrysotile (White) – Crocidolite (Blue)asbestos types
  • Asbestos Containing Product Examples
  • Asbestos Properties and the hidden legacy of asbestos
  • Control of Asbestos Regs and Requirements
  • Exactly who is at risk
  • Action to take on discovery and Survey and Recording


Course Duration: ½ day – Afternoon 13.30 – 16.30

COURSE REF                                DATE(s)                         LOCATION

ASBESTA 1503                                           Tuesday 20th October 2015                  Taunton Racecourse,

Fee: £65 to include Course notes, Coffee/Tea on arrival & mid-morning refreshments, CPD Certificate of Training (Fee subject to VAT)




HABC Level 3 Award in Health and Safety in the Workplace

Course Objective – Training /CPD Certificate issued

This qualification is suitable for directors, managers and supervisors who will gain an understanding of their responsibility for health and safety within their organisation; for those wishing to further their knowledge on the subject; or for those recently acquiring health and safety responsibilities within an organisation.

Course OutlineJon Wilkins Training

  • Understanding the requirements for health, safety and welfare in the workplace,
  • The benefits of using a safety management system,
  • The principles of risk assessment,
  • An understanding the risks and control methods for common workplace hazards.

Benefits of Attending

By the end of the training, delegates should have acquired the knowledge and understanding to undertake the assessment paper.

The HABC Level 3 Award in Health and Safety in the Workplace (QCF) is accredited and recognised internationally. highfield

Qualification is assessed by a multiple-choice examination, where the candidate must answer at least 40 out of 60 questions correctly. A Merit is awarded to candidates scoring 50 or more. The examination will take a maximum of 2 hours to complete

Course Duration: 3 days (1 day a week for 3 weeks)

COURSE REF                           DATE(s)                                                  LOCATION

HABC3 1501                              15th / 23rd / 29th October 2015                                              Taunton Racecourse

Fee: £660 to include Course notes, exams, mid-morning & afternoon refreshments, a buffet lunch on each day and the appropriate Certificate of Training (Fees subject to VAT)






All employers in the UK have a legal obligation to make first aid provision for their employees. This course is ideal for those who are going to be a nominated First Aider in the workplace. This three day course meets the statutory requirements of the Health & Safety Executive. Candidates must be of a working age and intend to practice first aid in the workplace during the validity of the certificate.

Who Is This Course Suitable For?First-Aid at work

  • Smaller companies
  • Offices and shops with less than 50 employees and other low risk environments
  • Employees working off site
  • Self-employed people
  • Anyone who wants to learn first aid and assist in an emergency situation.


  • Health & Safety Responsibilities
  • Managing an Incident
  • Priorities of First Aid
  • Managing an Unconscious Casualty
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Bleeding
  • Shock
  • Choking
  • Hyperventilation
  • Asthma
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Head Injuries
  • Epilepsy
  • Chest Pains
  • Eye Injuries
  • Injuries to bones, muscles and joints
  • Burns & Scalds
  • Moving Casualties
  • Poisons, Gases & Fumes
  • Care and Communication

Course Duration: 3 Days

COURSE REF                                DATE(s)                                                LOCATION

WSG. FA . 1501                                   28th/29th/30th October 2015                                                          Taunton Racecourse

Fee: £360 to include Course notes, mid-morning & afternoon refreshments, Finger buffet lunch on each day and a Certificate of Training   (Fee subject to VAT)





CDM Regulations 2015 – The Management of Pre-Construction Health and Safety

Course Objective – Training /CPD and APS Certificates issued

This 3 day course, which is accredited by the APS, is aimed at all CDM 2015 duty holders and those involved in construction planning, design and management. It has been developed to guide you through the regulatory requirements and practical implementation of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015.

The course has been designed to advise Clients, Principal Designers, Designers, Principal Contractors and contractors on how they can ensure compliance with CDM 2015. It focuses on the duty holder roles for application of the regulations to construction projects in the Pre-Construction Phase. It is also aimed at construction safety professionals and CDM Advisors, Project Managers, Facilities Managers and any other construction professionals that have a duty to comply with CDM 2015

Seminar Outline Management of Pre-Construction Health and Safety

  • Historical background for changes
  • Notification
  • Client Duties and Domestic Clients
  • Principal Designer Duties
  • Principal Contractor Duties
  • Expectations of the HSE
  • CDM Documentation

Benefits of Attending

You will have an insight into the intentions and implications of CDM 2015 for duty holders in the Pre-Construction Phase and the detailed requirements for discharging health and safety coordination duties.

An individual who successfully completes this CDM2015 Awareness Course may claim points towards membership of the Association for Project Safety – APS CDM 2015 APS logo

Course Duration: 3 days (1 day a week for 3 weeks)

COURSE REF                                DATE(s)                                                        LOCATION

CDM2015/3 1501                            Tuesdays 3rd/10th/17th November 2015                                           Taunton Racecourse

Fee: £660 to include Course notes, exams, mid-morning & afternoon refreshments, a buffet lunch on each day and the appropriate Certificate of Training (Fee subject to VAT).



For more information and to book and pay on line please visit our training page.

If you have any questions about these courses or any other training or would like us to run a particular course for you, call Jon Wilkins of the Wilkins Safety Group on 01458 253682 or email him.

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