20th May, 2023 Read time 4 minutes

Five key stories about Health and Safety

The world of health and safety is ever evolving, and it’s easy to lose track of current trends or key stories to keep in mind. To help you with understanding that ever changing landscape, here is our brief roundup of some of those important news items.

Reducing Vehicle deaths on farms

Agriculture is the most dangerous sector in Britain, with an average fatal incident rate 21 times higher than the industrial average.

The majority of those incidents are caused by vehicles. Because of this, the HSE has launched a new campaign calling on everyone in the farming community to do what they can to reduce the number of injuries involving vehicles and save lives. 

HSE says there are three key areas to keep in mind with vehicle safety: operating a safe farm, maintaining a safe vehicle and being a safe driver. 

Nitrous Oxide levels in some hospitals have far exceeded legal limits 

The BBC has found that Nitrous oxide levels on Watford General Hospital’s maternity suite far exceeded legal limits during peak periods.

In February 2022, air monitoring showed levels of almost 5,000ppm – 50 times what is safe. 

After the results of this monitoring, many NHS trusts have suspended the use of Entonox – a mixture of nitrous oxide and air used to assist women in labour with pain relief. Staff working in such units face uncertainty due to prolonged periods of time spent in affected areas, with particular concerns over Vitamin B deficiency due to exposure.

Daylight saving time and its effect on health and safety

As the clocks have jumped forward, a discussion about daylight saving time and its affects on health and safety has reemerged. 

Shifting clocks interferes with our sun, body and social clocks. The sun clock is the passage of time marked by midday being when the sun is at its highest point. Our body clock is set to the rhythms of our sleep and exposure to sunlight and darkness. The social clock is the time on your watch. 

Every time there is a change in the social clock, e.g. daylight saving time, it changes our alignment with the sun clock. This leads to a rise in accidents; with car crashes increasing as  tired workers drive home in the dark. Aside from those more obvious accidents, there are other negative effects such as productivity. Losing an hour’s sleep at the end of March leads to a wave of tired workers whose body clock is displaced, which in turn leads to workplace errors and accidents that equate to millions of pounds in lost productivity and health and safety problems. 

Health and Safety concerns around TikTok, amid talk of a ban in the UK and the US

As the UK Parliament has banned Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from its network over security concerns, and there have been considerations on banning TikTok in the UK and the US; the TikTok CEO was questioned about health and safety concerns at a congressional hearing. 

A large focus was placed on the platform’s algorithm impact on mental health, particularly of its young users. The Republican congressman Gus Bilirakis placed large emphasis on story of Chase Nasca, a 16-year-old boy who committed suicide after being “targeted” with unsolicited self-harm content. 

A majority of teenagers use TikTok – with 67% of people ages 13 to 17 saying they have used the app; which has raised a number of concerns about its impact, with self-harm and eating disorder-related content spreading on the platform. 

UK Companies worry about health and safety ahead of the Retained EU Law Bill

A survey of UK businesses has found that British companies strongly support health and safety regulations and highlighted fears over the impact of the Retained EU Law Bill.

69% of businesses are not willing to accept lower health and safety standards as part of the Retained EU Law Bill.

Less than 20% of businesses cited excessive government regulation as their largest issue; with the cost of energy (70%), inflation (65%) and a shortage of labour (45%) being their primary concerns. 

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