MSDs Get British Safety Agency's Full Attention

Britain's HSE is marking Euro Week this year by focusing on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and manual handling because together, they are the leading cause of occupational illness. A total of 190,000 new cases were reported to the Health and Safety Executive last year. HSE is boosting its training initiative for employers' safety representatives.

Marking HSE's support to the campaign at an event in Westminster on June 19, Health and Safety Minister Lord McKenzie of Luton said, "MSDs have been a priority for the Health and Safety Executive and government for the last decade. They remain a common cause of sickness absence, with 1.02 million cases in 2005-2006 that resulted in 9.45 million work days lost. This means that each person suffering took an estimated 17.3 days off work, equating to an annual loss of 0.41 days per worker. Providing in-depth practical training for safety representatives and focusing on the importance of worker involvement is vital in driving down MSDs. All workers have a right to work in places where all significant risks to their health or safety are properly controlled."

For the next few months, HSE will partner with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to raise its training quality for safety representatives. "HSE is committed to raising awareness and reducing the incidence of work-related MSD cases," said Geoffrey Podger, HSE's chief executive. "We will continue to work with employers, and workers, and their representatives, who are often best placed to spot issues. When employers and employees work together on health and safety issues, there can be real improvements." Euro Week is a yearly campaign run by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

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