Main causes of injury / occupational ill health
Manual handling / musculoskeletal injuries
Musculosketal disorders (MSDs) are the largest cause of injury in both the leather and footwear industries.
How do you know if you have a problem?
- Injury and health problems show up in different ways, such as:
- cases of injury to backs and limbs
- aches and pains
- poor product quality
- high material waste
- low output
- frequent worker complaints and rest stops
- do-it-yourself improvements to work stations and tools (eg seat padding)
- workers wearing bandages, splints, rub-ons, copper bracelets or magnets.
If you have a problem it will be costing money from sickness absence, high staff turnover, retraining, loss of production etc. Compensation cases are increasing, and problems may affect your insurance premiums.
Managing the risk
- Identify which tasks present a serious risk of acute injury (eg from lifting) or chronic injury (eg from repetitive upper body work).
- Assess these tasks in detail to decide what factors lead to the risk
- Introduce mechanisation where this is reasonably practicable, eg powered trucks, conveyors, vacuum lifters, bulk handling or automation
- Where mechanisation is not possible, introduce measures to prevent injury, eg reduce weights of sacks/boxes to 25kg or below, improve ergonomic design of work stations and work areas, job rotation, training, medical surveillance, job transfer
- Consult fully with trade union safety representatives or other employee representatives and workers to ensure effective and workable solutions to problems.
The Footwear and Leather Industry Health and Safety Committee publish Guidance Notes on various health and safety topics and these are available from the British Footwear Association website.
Exposure to noise at work can cause irreversible hearing damage. It is one of the commonest health problems and can be difficult to detect as the effects build up gradually over time.
Throughout all industry, industrial hearing loss remains the occupational disease with the highest number of civil claims accounting for about 75% of all occupational disease claims.
An audio clip showing the effect of exposure to noise over a working life
- L108 - Reducing Noise at Work - Guidance on the Noise at Work Regulations 1989
- INDG362 - Noise at work: A brief guide to controlling the risks
- INDG363 - Noise: Don't lose your hearing
- Audio demonstration of noise induced hearing loss