Keeping your Workplace Safe from Unusual Hazards.

A report by the Association of British Insurers claims that the number of people claiming to have suffered hearing loss at work is on the rise.

This surge in claimants is said to be up by 189% in between 2011 and 2014.

However, the Association is branding these claims false, blaming the increase on opportunistic lawyers who offer claimants ‘no win no fees’ deals. The trend is compared to the ‘whiplash’ trend of 2013; where claimants say they suffered whiplash and it’s hard for insurers to prove otherwise.

Whether there are genuinely greedy people out there trying to take advantage of this or not, it brings to mind one of the lesser-acknowledged hazards in many workplaces. We take our hearing for granted; barely noticing that it gets weaker with exposure to noise. According to the HSE, exposure to noise above 105dB for over 15 minutes per week, can permanently damage hearing.

For those that work in busy warehouses and their constant exposure to forklifts (90dB) and machinery (80dB), they go over the ‘limit’ almost everyday. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a rarely discussed hazard that warehouse workers face.

In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss some strategies on preventing NIHL and other uncommon warehouse hazards.

Hearing.

In the warehousing or manufacturing industry, the ears are exposed to loud noises for a minimum of six hours daily. This causes a gradual, barely noticeable, decline in the quality of hearing. It is estimated that a worker who starts a job in manufacturing at 18 would have lost more than 60% of their hearing by the age of 65.

Loss of hearing isn’t the only problem associated with exposure to loud noise. Tinnitus is another condition that develops due to noise exposure. A 2013 report by the HSE showed a positive relationship between the prevalence of tinnitus and hearing loss.

To prevent the development of NIHL, the NHS recommends limiting exposure to loud noise for long. Employers are bound by the law to find ways to reduce employee exposure to noise by:

  • using quieter equipment,
  • limiting time spent in noisy areas,
  • providing hearing protection to employees exposed to noise.

Insects & Rodents.

These pests can be found in many industrial environments. For one, most roller shutters are permanently opened and hey, summer flowers are blooming. This brings both the beautiful insects and the nasty insects in contact with workers. Some insect bites cause a nasty itching and swelling. Other bites can transmit disease.

Rodents are renowned for destroying goods and their droppings can contain bacteria. Humans breathe the infectious viruses in, when they breathe, causing terrible disease. To prevent getting bitten and possibly infected, it is advised that:

  • workers keep their food in clean locations in the canteen,
  • wear appropriate protection, such as a dust mask and gloves when cleaning the warehouse,
  • ensure all open wounds are covered when resuming for work.

Management is advised to ensure there are no sections of the warehouse that can harbour rodents.

Shift Working.

Like many developed countries, the UK run a 24-hour work force in every industry. But sleep deprivation, especially over long periods (which is typical for a shift worker) has been likened to ‘chaos’ in the body. Disrupting a person’s natural body clock has been linked to increased weight gain, increase in the stress-related hormone cortisol, increase in risk of heart disease, even cancer.

Scientists have devised a shift pattern that allows the body to reset itself without causing permanent damage. By rotating the shifts and making workers do 2 mornings, 2 evenings, 2 nights followed by 2 to 3 days off, they have detected less adverse reactions.

Who would have thought skipping sleep would be so bad? But it’s a silent killer and it damages the body down to DNA level.

Join us next week for our strategies on keeping your workforce safe in an office environment. At SRL Limited, our equipment is designed with your efficiency and safety in mind. For more information, call us today.