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October 24, 2011

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Spotlight falls on safe maintenance

This year’s European Week for Safety and Health at Work, which runs from today (24 October) until Friday, is being marked with a series of events focused around the importance of safe maintenance.

The European Week is part of the Healthy Workplaces campaign, organised by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and its partners across the EU and beyond.

More than 50 companies and organisations have signed up as official partners for the campaign. Dr Christa Sedlatschek, director of EU-OSHA, said: “Since April 2010, the campaign has mobilised some 10,000 people, through more than a hundred partnership meetings and a series of media activities, to bring safe maintenance to the fore.”

Launching the UK’s participation in the campaign at an event held in June, HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: “Maintenance work is often seen simply as a disruption to normal service, but it is fundamental to the integrity of every system and to the health and safety of workers and the public. Workers are often under pressure to complete jobs quickly, but there is no excuse for putting themselves and others in danger by taking shortcuts.”

Commenting on its own involvement, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The TUC supports European Health and Safety Week. We produced a guide to maintenance work for the Week, and we have been involved in joint activities with the EEF.
 
“In addition, we have been promoting the Wednesday of the week as National Inspection Day, when health and safety representatives are encouraged to inspect their workplaces.”

In Britain, it is estimated that between 25 and 30 per cent of all manufacturing-industry deaths result from maintenance activity, with fatalities and major injuries often linked to falls from height, or a failure to properly isolate machinery so that it doesn’t restart during repair work.

Events have been taking place up and down the country throughout the year, with more planned to coincide with the European Week itself and others set for later in the year. More details can be found at: www.hse.gov.uk/safemaintenance/campaign-details.htm

A wide variety of campaign material is also available in 24 languages to download from the Healthy Workplaces campaign website.

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