Commodious | Regulation Changes, Health and Safety News 14/05/21

A weekly roundup of the most important news concerning health and safety developments, enforcements and regulatory changes.

New guidance for health surveillance and occupational health from HSE

Health surveillance

You may or may not know that health and safety law requires health surveillance for some health risks. Health surveillance is a schedule of repeated health checks intended to catch ill-health caused by work, ideally before it becomes a serious problem.

Health surveillance is required when control measures are in place, but workers are still exposed to the health risks. Health risks that require surveillance include noise, vibration and substances hazardous to health.

Occupational health

Employers are required by law to protect workers’ occupational health, which includes preventing both mental and physical ill-health caused by business activities. An important aspect of occupational health, highlighted in the new guidance, is the impact of work and the work environment on workers’ health.

Legal obligations are placed on employers to ensure employees’ health is not impacted negatively by work activities and that they are medically fit to do their work safely. The new guide offers a step-by-step process to help employers know exactly what their duties are.

Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week - a campaign recognised by leading mental health charities. The campaign aims to break the negative stigma associated with mental health, improve awareness of the signs of mental ill-health, and promote mental wellbeing.

This year’s theme is nature, focussing on the positive impact that connecting with the natural world can have on people’s mental health. After being cut off from others, many people have turned to nature during the pandemic and found it to be of great help. This year’s campaign intends to develop this further.

“This year we want people to notice nature and try to make a habit of connecting to nature every day. Stop to listen to the birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, take care of a house plant, notice any trees, flowers or animals nearby. Take a moment to appreciate these connections.”

Mental health for farmers

While mental health issues may be a prominent concern for many employers, it may come as a surprise that the agricultural industry is also facing a mental health crisis. A recent survey found 88% of farmers under 40 believe that mental health is the most significant danger to the industry. 

In response to the problem, HSE announced its support for campaigns such as “Mind Your Head”, launched by the Farm Safety Foundation. Hopefully, this positive step will mark the start of a path to a brighter future for the agriculture industry.

Novel food procedures post-Brexit

The way in which the UK assesses novel foods may change, with the UK implementing its own procedures after separation from the EU.

An example of the difference can be seen in the treatment of cannabidiol by the UK as a novel food. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published guidance on the use of cannabidiol in foods in the UK, which covers how to apply for authorisation under the current novel food procedure. View the guidance here.

We’ll be keeping our eyes open for any new changes to food regulations in the future.