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Diabetes awareness week and the need for a safety focus

Posted on June 16, 2021

Diabetes is a hidden epidemic and the fastest-growing health threat facing our nation.

4.6 million people have the condition in the UK, with an additional 700 people diagnosed per day (1 every 2 minutes).  Diabetes is an invisible epidemic posing often unrecognised health and safety risks to individuals and companies. Civil and criminal liability could follow if appropriate steps have not been taken to identify and eliminate the risk.

What are the risks of diabetes?

The risk to an individual’s health from diabetes can be severe and include:

  • blindness – diabetes is the leading cause in the working population
  • amputation – 170 a week in the UK
  • increases risk of a heart attack
  • increased risk of a stroke
  • premature death – 500 people die a week from the condition
  • diabetic kidney disease

The implications at work are often overlooked, some examples are:

  • increased time off work particularly for those not managing their condition or those undiagnosed
  • increased risk of accidents
  • not being compliant with the Equality Act
  • not providing appropriate places to test or take injectable medications
  • not complying with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act

Companies would not allow an employee on site if they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, yet the symptoms caused by diabetes can have similar physical effects.  Additionally, companies would not allow an employee to operate safety critical machinery if they could not feel their feet, which is just one of the side effects of undiagnosed diabetes (currently anticipated to be 1 million undiagnosed people in the UK).

Diabetes must therefore be a risk which is specifically considered.  Control measures could include training, awareness, and an open culture.  These measures will help to reduce risk and increase the prospects of avoiding legal liability.  More importantly, it will stop the accident from happening, which is the best defence of all.

If you require support or assistance in relation to this topic, don’t hesitate to contact us on 0151 545 0497 or at [email protected]

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