It’s National Cupcake Week – but is baking as sweet as it seems?
Whilst the baking world celebrates National Cupcake Week and the nation continues to be glued to the Great British Bake Off, it’s worth giving a thought to the thousands of people who work in baking in the UK, and who sometimes suffer terribly for their work.
Almost half of Britain’s industry leaders do not feel enough is being done across industry to tackle cases of work-related ill-health, according to new research from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and that’s certainly still true in professional food manufacture.
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 (according to the HSE).
Main causes of occupational ill health in food/drink manufacture
Source: the Health & Safety Executive
Long-term ill health is an increasing problem in industry, especially with a more aging population.
People working in food manufacture can suffer from a wide variety of problems, including asthma, rhinitis and dermatitis (often triggered by a reaction to enzymes in ingredients), and back injury and other musculoskeletal problems caused by lifting or repetitive actions involving packaging.
Speaking after the recent launch of the HSE’s ‘Go Home Healthy’ campaign Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Penny Mordaunt said:
“Everyone should want to have a healthy and safe environment at work. Work-related ill-health is a costly issue for individuals, businesses, and the whole economy. This campaign will encourage employers to operate healthier workplaces and ensure workers get the support that they need.”
“Over the years, figures show that as workplace safety has improved, health has stagnated. The ‘Go Home Healthy’ campaign is about driving behavioural change in workplaces so we all can go home healthy. There is a moral, legal, and business case for employers to do the right thing by their workers. The importance of more joined-up thinking across industries when it comes to tackling work-related ill-health cannot be overstated.”
In other words, food manufacturing bosses need to put in place the correct risk assessments; provide the correct protective equipment; and keep a caring eye on their staff at regular intervals, and show concern and compassion when an employee falls ill.
If you work in food manufacture or baking, and suffer any of the illnesses mentioned, get in touch with our experts who can help you work out if the illness is workplace-related. If it is, our specialists can access justice on your behalf and could obtain compensation for you at no cost or risk to yourself.