- Occupational health
Occupational health - moving the health agenda forward
ORR’s vision is of a rail industry that consistently achieves best practice in occupational health. This is why we have developed an occupational health programme to improve the way in which the industry tackles health issues. In particular we want to:
- encourage industry leadership on health;
- promote awareness of health issues; and
- encourage a culture of excellence in the management of health.
ORR assessed occupational health in the railway industry in 2010 as a snapshot of the first year of the programme. Following on from this baseline review, which reported against several key indicators on health, we would encourage any rail companies who are keen to act as exemplars in occupational health management to measure their progress year on year against the baseline indicators (on incidence, cost, and public reporting on health) and share these with us.
We produce a quarterly update for rail dutyholders on progress with some of the activities in our health programme to help inform discussions on the occupational health programme with ORR inspectors – you can now join our free subscription service.
In this section
Work and health
The most recent statistics obtained by HSE from the Labour Force Survey show the adverse effect of some types of work on health. In 2011/12 an estimated 1.8 million people were suffering from an illness they believe was caused or made worse by their current or past work; 22.7 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and 4.3 million days due to workplace injury. The rail industry workforce is included in this survey and many of their workers will have suffered from work-related illnesses.
A revised HSE cost model estimates that new work related illnesses (excluding occupational cancers) cost GB society around £8.5 billion in 2009-10. The costs to employers (rather than to individuals and government) was estimated at £1.87 billion. Each new case of workplace ill health was calculated to cost society £16,100, with a cost to employers of £4,000 per new ill health case (compared with £3,100 for RIDDOR reportable injuries).
Many work-related health problems are preventable if work is properly managed and controlled. The managing workers health page provides examples of good practice. Work needs to be properly planned to both understand and stop health risks. An appropriate risk assessment will show what the risks are and this can then be used to make sure the work is carried out without causing workers health problems. Guidance on risk assessments is under external links.
Front line managers and supervisors have a key role in identifying and managing risks to workers’ health. The rail manager competence pages provide good practice guidance on what rail managers need to know on occupational health and how to achieve this, including a draft health training syllabus for rail managers.
The Government-led initiative, Health, Work and Wellbeing is aimed at protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of working age people further information can be found on their website. Anyone who wants to improve their own health and help others to do so can find a range of advice on the Department of Health’s website. Constructing Better Health is responsible for delivering the National Scheme for the management of occupational health in the construction industry.
What does the legislation cover?
Key health risks are covered by specific legislation, with guidance advising on how they can be prevented. HSE’s health hazards guidance for regulators provides detailed information on what the legislation requires and guidance how to tackle these health risks.
There are requirements under the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) to report cases of occupational ill health on the railway.
Details of health cases where enforcement action under health legislation has proved necessary are on our recent formal enforcement page.
Last updated: March 2013