UK's Food Industry Highlights Risk Management at IOSH Conference

The causes of injuries in the workplace and practical ways to prevent them were the main themes discussed at this year's "Back to Basics: Occupational Safety and Health in Food Manufacturing Conference," which ended yesterday at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool, England. The event was organized by the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive, the Trades Union Congress, and the Food and Drink Federation. The latter represents the food and drink manufacturing industry, which is the UK's largest manufacturing sector.

Jak Thomas, national health and safety manager of Allied Bakeries and chair of FDF's OHS Committee, said that a focal point of the committee's work at present is the development of policy positions on what he said were the five key areas of risk management critical to the safety and wellbeing of people in the industry: people safety, process safety, property risk, occupational health, and road risk. He also spoke on managing the risks associated with machinery and processing plants.

"The food and drink manufacturing sector has been working with the Health and Safety Executive, trade unions, and other local and national bodies since 1990 to address the way health and safety is tackled by employers in our industry," Thomas said. "This joint working has achieved remarkable success, with the injury rate falling by almost half in that time. This year's event has sought to address the work that still needs to be done to reduce incidences of work-related injury and ill-health in our sector, and identify practical ways to achieve this."

Dr Clive Harker, an occupational physician at United Biscuits, outlined the main occupational health priorities for food and drink manufacturing companies, which he said were namely asthma, back pain, mental health, and work-related upper limb disorders. He also spoke on stress and mental health in the workplace.

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