Every year thousands of workers suffer ill-health as a result of exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace, with conditions ranging from skin diseases like dermatitis to far more serious and potentially fatal illnesses like respiratory lung disease or cancer.
Many of the more serious ailments related to work-based exposure are only just becoming clear with some diseases taking years - perhaps decades - to manifest and are only now demonstrating the importance of improving work-based health conditions and reducing the exposure to hazardous substances.
An estimated 13,000 deaths each year are linked to past exposure to chemicals or dust when working within an industrial environment, according to a ‘Health and safety at work’ report - that's 35 people a day.
The stats on deaths from occupational lung disease alone show that 12,000 lung disease deaths each year are estimated to be linked to past exposure at work, with 20% of those thought to be linked to exposure to asbestos.
Why this is not higher on the business and political agenda is a question which needs to be raised with new cases of work-related ill health costing the UK £9.7 billion in 2016/17 according to a new report published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Trolex has long been a pioneer in industrial safety technology.
Our 50 years of experience within the heavy industrial sectors has meant creating solutions capable of working in some of the most challenging environments on Earth. Organisations across the world have benefitted from Trolex’s state-of-the-art safety technology to protect workers, resources and their business.
It comes with great pleasure then to announce that Trolex will be the overall event and awards sponsor for HazardEx 2019 – the longest established hazardous area event of its kind.
Health and safety in hazardous environments doesn't just have implications for the wellbeing of operatives, it can also have a serious impact on an operation's finances and viability.
Whether this is due to lost productivity or - in the worst cases - pay-outs after accidents or ill health, being able to identify the health and safety risks within industrial operations is essential.
Thankfully, industrial safety technologies are constantly evolving and improving along with the health and safety policies around harsh and hazardous operations. This means that employees are better protected from the dangers of their working environment.
In this blog, we take a closer look at how industrial safety technologies are evolving, as well as how they are improving health and safety within harsh and hazardous environments.
When people talk about ‘business agility’ industries like mining and manufacturing are not usually first to mind.
But while the notion of business agility has always been associated with lean start-ups and small businesses, for mining and manufacturing organisations, being able to change with the times and embrace new technology to reduce costs and drive efficiency is now more important than ever.
Old methods have to change – and executives across industrial manufacturing are aware of the importance of innovation and business agility.
The mining sector has been in the midst of a market challenge for the last decade thanks in part to falling prices and demand as operations are continually forced to review business plans and cut costs wherever possible.
As a result of this, more operations have investigated how new mining and industrial technology and connected equipment can help drive down unnecessary costs and improve operational efficiency, without increasing risks to health and safety.
A recent report by PwC for instance highlighted that apart from health and safety improvements, technology investment is one of the prime focusses of the main mining operators across the world in the coming years.
According to statistics from the HSE, around 12,000 people in the UK die from dust inhalation related to exposure in the workplace every year and hazardous industries need to improve the working environment. While regulation is being tightened to improve working conditions, it is also the threat of legal claims that is focusing attention for managers, board members and shareholders alike.
Safety regulation across the globe has become ever more stringent as authorities have recognised the dangers associated with working in hazardous dusty environments. From mining to tunnelling and manufacturing, hundreds of thousands of individuals are working every day in high dust environments, and therefore at risk of inhaling potential health damaging toxins.
Traditional industrial sectors are not readily set up to deal with technological innovation and change, but these are also sectors in which technology and innovation can have the most dramatic impact both on health and safety, and productivity.
Many of the leaders in these sectors recognise the importance and benefits of innovation, but because they remain heavily reliant on traditional machinery and manpower, they can find it difficult to bring in new technology.
It is becoming cliché to say that technology is changing the face of business sectors all over the world, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening and the mining and manufacturing sectors are no different.
While traditionally labour-intensive and reliant on heavy, static equipment, smart and connected technology is now showing potential to completely change how mining and manufacturing businesses operate.
From remote and mobile environment and equipment monitoring, to real-time data and analytics to machine learning and automation, there is seemingly no end to the benefits new mining and manufacturing technology is bringing to historically industrial sectors.
Traditional worker well-being has primarily focused on improving workplace safety.
Whether avoiding injuries due to slips and trips, or falling or faulty equipment, keeping employees safe and free from injury has been – and will continue to be – a major part of industrial workplace health and safety.
In recent years however there has been a shift from focussing on general safety towards promoting employees’ long term health – especially the potential impacts on long-term health associated with working in hazardous environments.