One health hazard that is often overlooked in the food and drink manufacturing industry is occupational noise. Things to consider: –

Preserving Hearing Health

Prolonged exposure to high noise levels can lead to permanent hearing damage. In food and drink manufacturing facilities, the presence of loud machinery, equipment, and processes can contribute to excessive noise levels.

By utilising occupational noise measurement equipment, employers can accurately gauge noise levels across different areas of their premises. The data they collect will then empower employers to identify potential hazards across the site, implement appropriate noise control measures (whether that is introducing engineering controls, quieter work practices or appropriate hearing protection) and protect their employees’ hearing health effectively.

Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations is a mandatory requirement. Failure to comply with regulation will ultimately result in penalties, possible employee litigation, and MOST IMPORTANTLY compromise employee health and well-being.

Personalised Risk Assessments

By monitoring noise levels in real-time and assessing the duration of exposure, employers can identify individuals at a higher risk of hearing damage. This information enables targeted and SITE-SPECIFIC interventions, implementing engineering and administrative controls to minimise noise emissions and providing suitable and effective hearing protection.

How can we help?

The HAWKES HEALTH GROUP, provide competent Safety Practitioners and Occupational Hygienists with a range of instruments ideal for measuring and monitoring the noise that impacts workers inside your business.

Monitoring occupational noise is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process. We will help identify patterns, highlight areas that require attention, and evaluate the effectiveness of implemented control measures.

By regularly reviewing and improving noise management practices, organisations can create a safer and healthier work environment.

Speak to our expert team today 0800 193 622 or email Download and have a read. 

Relevant Ministers are urging employers to do more to keep workers healthy and reduce the numbers out of work due to long-term sickness

Plans include a new standard for businesses to adopt to boost health in the workplace and support to tackle inactivity by improving productivity and preventing health-related job losses.

HAWKES HEALTH are not as evangelical as others concerning the campaign’s potential ‘ levelling up’ impact but nevertheless remain cautiously optimistic. 

Angela Rowntree, Occupational Health Physician for the John Lewis Partnership, said:

“We welcome this new focus on ensuring other businesses and their employees are able to access better workplace health’

The Occupational Health consultation will run until 23:59 on Thursday 12 October 2023

Furthermore, in tandem, HMRC have also launched the consultation Tax Incentives for Occupational Health. This maybe of interest to the Financial Directors and Accountants of SMEs

HSE documents lay bare ‘alarming’ safety failings in North Sea • 13 min read

Dust particles can be 100 times smaller than a grain of sand and you don’t need to see them to breathe them in. Once in your lungs, dust will start causing damage.

Substances, for example, Quartz a common form of crystalline silica and others cause serious lung disease and are often present in building work and other similar work environments e.g stone masonry.  

Over exposure to dust can lead to severe breathing difficulties that can ruin lives with workers dying every week from lung diseases caused by exposure to dust.

It can take considerable time before the damage is visible and by then it can be too late. All building workers should make sure they are aware of the risks and work in ways that protects their respiratory health.

Remember: Approximately 99% of work-related deaths in the UK are from exposure to dust and chemicals. In 2017/18, 144 people died in workplace accidents but around 13,000 died from cancer or respiratory related illnesses.  

What Hawkes Health do:

Identify the significance of risks concerning your workforce and assess current prevention measures and offer additional risk controls mechanisms and ensure they can be consistently applied and monitored.

Dust monitoring which involves the measurement and analysis of dust levels plays a role in this process and managing workplace risk.

For the next 3 months Hawkes Health are not charging for laboratory analysis costs for any associated dust sampling undertaken by our Industrial Hygienists for new customers.  This applies to wood work environments too

Email  or telephone 0800 193 622 Ext 4

The highest risk to a concrete sprayer’s health is likely to be from breathing in dust.

Construction dust is a general term and includes dust from soil and building materials. Breathing in any dust over time can cause serious lung diseases.

Find out more about the hazards and how to control them and manage the risk: OR contact us at

0800 193 6222 ext 4

For employees to stay well and in work, it’s vital for them to be able to talk to managers about stress and mental health. 

If you think a member of your team may be experiencing a mental health problem, you may need to take the lead, open up a dialogue and raise the matter directly with them. To start with, you may find it helpful to consider the following:

  • Engaging in self-reflection

Identify what support you may need to manage your own anxiety about mental health conversations as well as aiming to recognise your own tendencies, discomforts, and triggers in that area, which can help you prepare for a sensitive discussion with your employee.

  • Focusing on responding as opposed to reacting.

It is important to not overreact, especially if you are experiencing anxiety about broaching the subject (also remember that it is natural to experience anxiety about it). For example, it may be important and helpful to refer an employee to HR or OH however it is also key to not escalate things too rapidly (in other words, it is best to allow time to consider things carefully) 

  • How to approach the conversation 
    It might be best to engage in a compassionate, supportive, curious, positive, and not overly formal manner. 

Key things to consider when planning to initiate a conversation about mental health with your employee: 

  • Choose an appropriate time and place (for example, somewhere private and quiet where you will not be disturbed).
    It may be helpful to consider a more neutral space, if possible. You can also ask your employee where they would prefer to meet.
  • Set up the right conditions for active listening and supportive stance 
    It may be helpful to sit near them or being beside them (rather than opposite them or behind the desk). Working from home may require you to demonstrate active listening more verbally on a phone call or video call. Be mindful of your body language and your tone of voice. Try to be warm and calm and convey openness. 
  • Ask open questions & share observations.

Ask simple, open, and non-judgmental questions. You can start by asking how they are. Do not be afraid to be more direct by saying: ‘I have noticed that you have not been yourself lately, how are you feeling? Reassure them that you are here to listen and to offer help and support if they need it. Ask them, what support they have in place and what they do to look after themselves; ask when it might be good to check in with them again. 

  • Do not be afraid to ask again
    Sometimes people think that you are just being polite by asking how they are. Asking twice can clearly convey that you are genuinely interested. If you say, “are you sure everything is okay?” can help send a message that you are not merely going through the motions and even if they are not ready to talk about it, they may feel more reassured that you are there to listen. At the same time, do not be push too hard (that is, if you already asked twice) and respect that an individual may not be ready and willing to talk at that point or that perhaps they feel they are doing okay.
  • Reassure

Be prepared that people may not be ready to talk but regardless of whether your employee is able or willing to talk or not, outline what support is available and remind them that your door is always open and that you will endeavour to ensure they will get the support they need.

  • Practice active listening and non-judgmental attitude
    It might be helpful to be mindful of how well we convey empathy and pay attention to self-regulating in order to demonstrate supportive stance and make appropriate decisions.
  • Normalise their struggles
    The overreaching message that needs to be communicated is: ‘we are all human and we all have mental health. Talking about it makes a significant difference’. As a manager, you do not have to disclose a mental health problem and you might not have any personal experience of one but if you are comfortable (and if appropriate), you may share your feelings and say that you get down or overwhelmed sometimes or share something you have been worried about lately. Be careful, however, not to overshare and ‘hijack’ the conversational space. Drawing on your experience can be powerful though and it is another tool that can help destigmatise the issue and convey that you are happy to talk about feelings without judgment. 
  • Respond flexibly. Be person centred andtailor your support to the individual and involve them as much as possible in finding solutions to work relates issues. Often, effective workplace adjustments are individual and temporary and does not require huge or costly measures.
  • Be honest and clear
    If there are any serious or specific grounds for concern, such as level of absence or those related to performance, be transparent about them from the start so that they can be addressed, and an employee supported at an early stage.
  • Be positive 
    By focusing on what they employee can do, rather than what they are unable to do.
  • Ensure confidentiality (however do not promise confidentiality if an employee is suicidal and at risk to themselves).
    Remember that an employee may need to be reassured of confidentiality. It is pertinent to discuss with them what information they are comfortable sharing and with whom. 
  • Develop wellness action plan
    Work collaboratively with your employee to develop a clear action plan that outlines signs of their mental health problems, triggers for stress, potential impact on their work, who to contact in crisis, and finally what support they will need. The plan should also identity agreed time for reviews to evaluate the effectiveness of support measures, tweaking them if necessary.

    Ensure that the measures are not counterproductive – it is important that people are not treated differently for example by being asked to do something others are not required to do or that they are not micromanaged or that the adjustments do not damage their self-esteem further (here, communication is key- do not assume that taking them off the big project will help them by decreasing their workload, instead explain your intention and check whether it would indeed be helpful for them as sometimes we have good intentions but people end up worrying that they are seen as redundant and begin to feel anxious about ‘being pushed out’ of the organisation).

    It is also key to provide some concrete options such as: ‘Would you like to take some time off? Would greater flexibility in your start and finish times help? Shall we look at your workload and reprioritise your commitments? Are there some tasks that you particularly enjoy and want to do more of?’.
  • Encourage them to seek support and professional help
    It is important to prompt an employee to speak to their GP about available support in the NHS or to engage in EAP and any other support that is available through the organisation. 
  • Follow up
    Ensure there is consistency and regular opportunities to check in and review how an employee is doing.
  • Seek advice and support yourself
    Be proactive in looking after your own mental health as otherwise you will not be able to support others. 

An asbestos removal company has been convicted and its director given a prison sentence after failing to ensure the safe removal of asbestos.

Asbestos Boss Limited, also known as Asbestos Team and its director, Daniel Luke Cockcroft, advertised as a licensed asbestos removal company and removed licensable material from domestic properties throughout Great Britain.

An investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Asbestos Boss Limited had never held a licence and their poor working practices resulted in the large scale spread of asbestos and exposure to homeowners and their families. Little to no precautions were taken by Asbestos Boss Limited and so their own workers, as well as anybody at the premises they were working on, were at serious risk of exposure to asbestos.

The company and their director also breached a prohibition notice on several occasions.

At Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 10 March, Asbestos Boss Limited of Old Gloucester Street, London was found guilty of breaching regulations 8(1) and 11(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. They were also found guilty of one charge relating to the failure to comply with a prohibition notice at two separate addresses which prevented them from working with licensed asbestos materials. The company are awaiting sentence.

Company director Daniel Luke Cockcroft pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in relation to the company’s failing of regulation 8(1) and 11(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 as well as the charge for breach of a prohibition notice.

He was immediately imprisoned for 6 months and ordered to pay victim compensation.

HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said: “Asbestos is a killer. Companies and their directors need to recognise the dangers of removing asbestos by themselves both to their employees and others. Asbestos removal should only be carried out by trained personnel who understand the risks and how to control them.

“Asbestos Boss Limited have deliberately removed a highly dangerous material resulting in a significant risk of exposure to cancer causing asbestos. They not only have put their customers at risk but have also undoubtedly put themselves, their workers, and their families at serious risk.

“By undertaking asbestos removal work himself, Mr Cockcroft has also chanced his own life, and the life of his family by working unsafely with asbestos, despite knowing full well what the risks were.

“This case should serve as a warning to any other companies who think they can make a quick profit by cutting corners and risking lives. I also hope that potential customers will be able to avoid rogue companies like Asbestos Boss by carrying out simple checks to ensure that any company they employ is legitimate and competent to prevent them and their families being put at serious risk.”

Asbestos Boss Limited and Mr Daniel Cockcroft, were also prosecuted by Stockport Trading Standards, in a jointly run case with HSE. Daniel Cockcroft and the company were both charged with fraud in relation to falsifying training certificates, a business insurance document and unauthorised use of trade association logos.

This gave the impression that the business was credible and that workers were adequately trained and competent in relation to asbestos removal.

Daniel Cockcroft pleaded guilty to fraud and the company was also convicted. Daniel Cockcroft was sentenced to an additional 4 month in prison making a total prison term of 10 months. The company is awaiting sentence at an additional hearing.

Councillor Helen Foster-Grime, Stockport Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said:

“Our Trading Standards team, work closely with other agencies and will do our utmost to ensure offenders like this, who carry out work with no regard for the safety of our residents, are brought to justice.

“I am delighted that these criminals have been held to account. The message is very clear – we will not tolerate this in Stockport and will take robust action wherever possible.”

'Asbestos and You' campaign logo

This week HSE has launched a new campaign to remind people working in construction trades to manage the risks associated with asbestos.

Despite being banned by 1999, 5,000 people a year still die from asbestos related diseases due to the decades delay between exposure and the symptoms of disease appearing.

Asbestos didn’t disappear when it was banned in the UK and we know that it remains in millions of homes and buildings.

Asbestos exposure is still the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in Great Britain with those carrying out repairs or refurbishment work being at a higher risk of disturbing asbestos, especially when working in houses.

Builders, carpenters, electricians, joiners, plasterers, plumbers, and roofers, are just some of the trades being urged to take the risks of asbestos seriously.

The campaign, called ‘Asbestos and You,’ will target all tradespeople with a focus on younger workers in trades who have recently joined the industry. HSE particularly wants to reach those who started their careers from the year 2000, after the use of asbestos was banned so they know the risk still remains.

Key facts

  • Asbestos containing materials were used extensively in the construction and maintenance of buildings from the 1950s – 2000
  • Asbestos is dangerous when not maintained in a safe condition or if physically disturbed without the right measures in place to avoid fibres being released into the air
  • If asbestos fibres are inhaled, they can cause serious diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos related lung cancer, asbestosis, and pleural thickening
  • These diseases often take a long time to develop, and it can take 20 to 30 years for symptoms to appear
  • Construction tradespeople of any age are at significant risk if they disturb materials containing asbestos during repairs and refurbishment
  • Where it can’t be maintained safely in place, it must be removed.

Find out more

Visit the HSE ‘Asbestos & You’ campaign website for more information about the campaign and how you can support it. You’ll also be able to download a new ‘quick guide for trades’.

Economic inactivity has increased across all age groups in the UK – in stark contrast to other developed countries. The reasons for this are multi-factorial, but long-term sickness is a contributing factor. 

Preventing fallout by supporting people to stay in work is essential, as is supporting those who have already left the workforce to return to work. Access to Occupational Health advice for those with long-term medical conditions is vital .. If YOU as an employer require help or just some free advice concerning short and long term sickness absence management our team are here to help

Contact us on 0800 193 6222 [ Press Option/Ext 2] or drop as a line

A company has been fined after an employee became seriously ill when he contracted a blood infection while working at a lake contaminated with sewage.

He was working for Adler and Allan Ltd, a supplier of environmental risk services, during a clean-up operation at a lake near Churchbridge, Cannock, Staffordshire, in June 2019.

Dead fish had to be cleaned out of the lake after it was contaminated with sewage when a nearby pipe burst.

The employee worked at the lake for two weeks before contracting Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease) and became seriously ill.

The infection led to the man having a rash across his whole body meaning he had to limit contact with his family. His kidney and liver also had to be monitored. He was given antibiotics and did not make a full recovery for around four months.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was a serious risk of ill health to employees at the site as there were inadequate hygiene provisions in place to suitably guard against bacteriological and pathogen infection.

During around the first two weeks of the job, there were no on-site toilets or welfare units available to the company’s employees. This led to workers using a local supermarket to wash and go to the toilet.

There was also a lack of supervision at the site, with the company also failing to conduct a suitable risk assessment and implement an appropriate system of work.

Adler and Allan Limited of Station Parade, Harrogate, Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety Act 1974 and Regulation 20(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The company were fined £126,100 and ordered to pay costs of £43,494 at Cannock Magistrates’ Court on 29 November 2022

HSE inspector Lyn Mizen said: “This serious ill health matter could have been avoided if the clearly foreseeable risks and dangers had been appropriately controlled and managed, right from the outset.

“Portable welfare units can be easily sourced and are clearly needed for heavily contaminated work situations such as this.

“HSE will not hesitate to hold duty holders to account if they fall short of appropriate welfare standards.”

This is an example of a lack of competent task planning and delivery .. with little attention paid to robust risk assessment .. If you need help we are here to help

Hawkes Health (UK) Limited. Registered company number: SC445091. Achilles First Point (FPAL) Supplier Number: 10055672.