Work-related ill health is a problem for every section of society, with conditions ranging from cancer and other long-latency diseases, to stress and musculoskeletal disorders. Greater awareness of the harm, costs and preventability of work-related ill health should drive collective action to improve health outcomes.
This will require long-term and coordinated action across all sectors, bringing in additional partners such as the NHS and others to support the substantial behaviour change and awareness programmes that will be required.
A key element of this theme will be in earlier prevention, which is more cost-effective than trying to intervene when a person is suffering from more serious ill health. This will involve a greater focus on health issues at work, while continuing to ensure that maintaining standards around safety remains a priority.
One of the leading causes of occupational asthma is exposure to isocyanates, chemicals which can be found in paints that are used in vehicle repairs.
A four-year project involving representatives from across the vehicle repair industry and HSE identified new, practical ways of training workers.
These helped reduce exposure to dangerous chemicals among the 12 000 workers in the industry by taking simple steps such as demonstrating how to use a spray booth properly. Since the intervention, biomonitoring of workers has increased and exposure levels remain lower, demonstrating an improvement in exposure control.