The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has challenged the minerals industry to continue its journey to ‘zero harm’.
While there has been an 85% reduction in fatal and reportable accidents across the sector since 2000, workers are still 11 times more likely to be killed when compared to all industries across the UK.
Statistics show the country’s current fatal accident frequency rate is 0.46 deaths per 100,000 workers.
HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction, Peter Baker, wants more to be done to ensure worker safety.
He was speaking at the Mineral Products Association’s (MPA) annual conference, which celebrated the drive towards health and safety within the minerals industry.
Other keynote speakers included Tracey Boyle, President Elect of the British Occupational Hygiene Society, and Professor David Fishwick, the Health and Safety Laboratory’s Chief Medical Officer and Co-Director of the Centre for Workplace Health.
Mr Baker said the industry needs to evaluate the health agenda, particularly in terms of occupational health.
He added that the MPA, along with others, must identify and understand key risk areas and ensure that any initiatives deliver the right outcomes. By this he means reducing the number of accidents at work.
Ms Boyle declared sharing best practice is vital to protecting workers across the minerals industry.
She said worker health protection is not just the right thing to do, but is good for business as well.
Professor Fishwick echoed the same sentiments. He also spoke about the actual risks associated with exposure to respirable crystalline silica and how this affects the respiratory system, giving some graphic real life examples.
Silica dust exposure can be devastating. It can cause a condition known as silicosis, which results in the thickening and scarring of lung tissue, while it has also been linked to the development of lung cancer.
Employees in the minerals industry are exposed to a variety of substances and chemicals which could be harmful to health.
To help employers, HSE introduced Workplace Exposure Limits, guidelines which they are expected to follow when a worker is at risk of inhaling or being exposed to a potentially dangerous substance or chemical.
Source: Mineral Products Association
Date Published: December 12, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown