Airport worker health and safety management

What the latest statistics tell us about priorities for health and safety management

What the latest statistics tell us about priorities for health and safety management

The Health and Safety Executive has released the Health and Safety at Work summary statistics for Great Britain, its annual report detailing work-related ill-health and injury rates, highlighting trends and issues to help health and safety managers understand cross-industries patterns. It makes for insightful reading for the aviation industry, where workers can face a range of potentially dangerous hazards. What are some of the learnings from this year’s report that should be considered by those responsible for health and safety management in the aviation industry?

  1. Mitigate the effects of chemicals and dust

    This year’s report showed that there are an estimated 13,000 deaths each year linked to past exposure to chemicals and dust. Airside chemicals and hazardous materials, such as engine fumes and microbes in toilet waste, among others, can cause injury and illness. In addition to robust safety policies and an airside safety culture, the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment is essential to safeguard workers against these hazards, including the right gloves and chemical protection.

  2. Protection against musculoskeletal disorders are proving effective, but there’s more to be done

    Almost half a million workers suffered work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2018/2019, typically related to manual handling, awkward or tiring positions, or repetitive actions. Manual handling issues affect many airside roles, including engineers, catering staff and cargo handlers. Encouragingly, there’s a downward trend in work-related musculoskeletal disorders. However, with 6.9 million working days lost to these disorders in 2018/2019, it’s still an area that needs continued focus to protect workers adequately. The right manual handling training procedures must be strictly adhered to, along with providing staff with on-time breaks, and the right equipment to do their job safely.

  3. Further protection is needed against slips, trips and falls

    In 2018/2019, there were 147 fatal workplace injuries. Although the figure is part of a long-term decline, it’s been broadly flat in recent years, so scrutiny is needed to understand why. A further 581,000 non-fatal injuries caused a loss of 4.7 million working days, with the majority of these (29%) being down to slips, trips or falls. Falls from a height, handling, lifting and carrying, and being struck by moving objects caused other injuries. These are all potential hazards in airside situations, but which can be protected against with the right equipment, such as safety footwear and headwear.

  4. Mental health needs closer attention

    Workplace injuries and physical illnesses tend to be more tangible, and arguably easier to protect against than mental illness. But workplace-related stress, depression and anxiety are showing signs of increasing in recent years, with 602,000 workers reportedly suffering from these conditions in 2018/2019 – and that’s just the individuals that declared their status. Britain’s airside workers all play their part to help keep the UK airspace safe and must have access to appropriate mental health support when needed.

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