This week saw the first meeting of a new occupational health working group – set up under British Glass’ Health and Safety Forward programme to understand current health provision and challenges in the glass sector, and promote good practice.
In 2014/15 the cost of work-related illness to the UK economy was £9.3 billion. So it’s hardly surprising that one of the key strands of the Health and Safety Executives Helping Great Britain working well campaign is tackling ill health; nor that two of the three priorities in the HSE’s draft sector plan for manufacturing are health-related.
Alistair Lowe, chair of the British Glass Health and Safety Committee said:
“It’s clear that health issues are increasingly having an impact on business performance throughout industry. But in glass manufacturing and its supply chain even basic issues can need special consideration to allow for factors such as elevated temperatures or the specialist protective clothing used. ”
The working group is open to staff in British Glass member companies who work on health matters – be that from a health and safety advice, human resources or occupational health perspective. It will consider a wide range of health issues and explore areas including respirable dust, stress and mental health, effects of vibration and supporting an ageing workforce.
The glass sector has improved its safety record significantly over the years and this group will work to mirror that success for health matters.
The group is coordinated by British Glass’ Senior HSE adviser Jenni Richards who said:
“Glass companies need healthy and well employees. As a sector we have a wide range of initiatives to respond to staff needs – but we’re always looking for ways to improve. This group is an invaluable forum for our members to learn from each other and be collaborators, not competitors, for the good of the wider industry.”
One of the tasks the group has already agreed to work on together is to survey the sector to understand the current level of health provision.
British Glass runs a provision for continuous safety and health improvement for its members: Health and Safety Forward - the core principle of which is to ensure and demonstrate that the glass sector is forward looking, and thinking, in terms of health and safety.