Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare

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For more information on Workplace health safety and welfare click here for the relevant chapter of the TUC guide to health and safety "Hazards at Work

Temperature, humidity, ventilation and lighting are all major determinants of comfort in the workplace. Yet conditions in workplaces are often unsatisfactory and result in harmful health effects for workers.

In the 2010 TUC safety representatives survey, one in three (34 per cent) safety representatives cited high or low temperatures as one of their top concerns. Many workers face extremes of temperature. Examples include those working outdoors, work in cold stores, working near bakery ovens or furnaces. But all workers can experience problems because of hot or cold temperatures. People will complain of discomfort if the heating cannot cope in cold weather or if ventilation is bad when it is hot. Working in the wrong temperature can mean loss of concentration, irritability, tiredness, discomfort and increased accident risks. Too much heat can cause fatigue, dehydration, dizziness and fainting, heat stress and ultimately heat stroke. Cold temperatures affect dexterity and mobility and may increase physical and visual strain, fatigue, and other problems for people with muscular pain, arthritis and heart conditions. The TUC has been campaigning for maximum temperatures at work.

Many office workers have complained for years that the building that they work in is causing them ill health. Self-reported work-related illness surveys have previously shown that between 2,000 and 15,000 office workers suffer from 'sick building'-type symptoms. They believed that the symptoms were caused by their indoor working environment or indoor lighting at work.

Similarly seating, room dimensions and space, and cleanliness are all factors that are important to
workers but are often neglected by employers. It is a similar story when it comes to basic safety features. More than a third of all major injuries reported each year are caused as a result of a slip or trip. Slips or trips are the most common cause of non-fatal major injuries in both manufacturing and service industries.


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