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How Increased Demand Can Put Worker Health and Safety at Risk


Introduction

Although increased demand is a positive occurrence for any commercial business, it can also result in added pressures and dangers. This can put the health and safety of workers and other individuals at risk, with an increased potential for accidents to take place. An organisation therefore needs to ensure that it responds to increases in demand with appropriate health and safety responses.

Increased demand for products will result in a necessity for faster production and/or longer production hours. Either way, this will place greater strain on both machinery and people, and whenever strain increases, so too does the potential for incidents and negative impacts upon safety, health and well-being.



Faster Production

When production needs to speed up in order to increase output, this will often mean that machinery needs to operate more quickly than usual. This will increase wear, as well as generating heat. Not only can there be a danger to health if the machine breaks and pieces start flying off in all directions, but the heat generated will raise the potential for fires or explosions, especially if the machines are run at speeds which are over and above the recommended maximum operating limits.

Operating machinery or completing tasks quicker will also increase the likelihood of the human user making a mistake which can cause an injury to themselves or others. Operating and using tools and equipment is dangerous at the best of times, but doing so under pressure and even more quickly can increase the potential for injuries. An example of a personal injury includes those in the textile industry who have to use sewing machines more quickly than normal in order to meet upcoming production deadlines. Workers in some industries may need to perform certain actions which can affect others in the building, such as shutting off machines/processes at particular times or monitoring critical levels. If they make a mistake with work equipment due to the stress or speed of the faster production then there is potential for serious injuries or death both to themselves and all of those around.



Longer Production

For some machinery it may not be possible to alter the speed at which it operates, and so in this scenario it will need to be in use for longer periods than normal in order to produce the extra demand required. This too has implications for the health and safety of the operatives.

For starters, running machinery for longer can also produce the same heat and wear issues that can come with running it faster. Therefore the same considerations and safeguards need to be employed.

Longer production also places a greater burden upon people if they need to work more hours. Whilst some may appreciate the overtime payments, working longer hours can increase tiredness and therefore the probability of mistakes. As we know, tired workers whose concentration is wavering can make mistakes that put their own health and safety at risk, as well as endangering the health and well-being of their colleagues and nearby members of the public.



Conclusion

There will be times when production and output needs to be ramped up in order to satisfy increased demand and large orders which come in from time to time. Whilst it may initially cause delight due to the monetary value involved, it is imperative that managers take into account the possible implications on the health and safety of workers and nearby members of the public.

Any change to production or processes will likely need additional health and safety actions to be taken such as increased monitoring and more frequent maintenance to ensure the safety of everyone, not to mention keeping the machines running smoothly! Managers may also need to evaluate staffing levels, as additional temporary workers may need to be hired to avoid putting too much strain on current employees. This will obviously have health and safety implications also, as these new workers will require proper health and safety training and induction sessions.




Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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