Occupational health topics

Every year, in food and drink manufacture, around 19,000 workers (nearly 5% of the workforce) suffer from ill health caused or made worse by work. The risk of suffering occupational ill health is around twice that of sustaining an injury reportable to HSE. 

Almost 60% of occupational ill health involves musculoskeletal injury such as back injury from repetitive lifting or work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs) from repetitive tasks. Work-related stress, which is often cited as a cause of mental ill health, is another major issue causing almost 30% of ill health. Occupational asthma and rhinitis, related mainly to exposure to flour and bakery dusts, causes around 8% of ill health followed by occupational dermatitis (4%) and noise-induced hearing loss (1%). 

Occupational rehabilitation, sometimes known as sickness absence and return to work, has become an essential part of running an efficient business to ensure sickness absence is managed and return to work times reduced.

Main causes of occupational ill health in food/drink manufacture

Percentages for ill health categories

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Updated 2023-06-15