Most of us don’t have to worry about risk when we go to work every morning. People who work in offices or shops would never say that they have a risky job, and if asked to list risky occupations you’d probably think of jobs like being a stuntman or a deep sea diver. However, the list of occupations where you are most likely to be injured or killed throws up some surprisingly normal jobs.
Farming and Fishing
By far the most dangerous job in the UK in terms of the chance of being injured is being a farmer or a deep sea fisherman. In 2011, 34 people died working on farms in the UK, in accidents involving being crushed by large animals, machinery like tractors or falls from heights. The Health And Safety Executive are trying to address the high number of agricultural injuries by improving training and safety standards on farms. If you choose to go to sea for a living, you are 50 times more likely to die at work than people in other occupations.
The risks involved with working in the building industry are fairly obvious. The job is a combination of working at heights on ladders, using heavy items and potentially dangerous machinery and tools. Over a quarter of all deaths at work take place on building sites, even though construction only employs 5% of UK workers. In addition, construction workers are far more likely to suffer from problems caused by exposure to substances like asbestos in the past.
Underground mining is not as large an employer as it was in times past, but it is still classed as a risky industry to work in. Accidents such as cave ins or underground explosions are often fatal, and exposure to dust can cause long term health problems too. Open cast mining is less risky, but there are still dangers associated with operating heavy machinery.
Working on board an oil rig is a well-paid occupation, partly due to the isolation and partly because of the risks involved. Safety on a rig is paramount, but there is no getting away from the fact that taking oil or gas out of the sea bed has potential for devastating fires and explosions. The weather is another factor which raises the risk, and the remote locations mean that it is not always possible to get workers off the rigs immediately when there is an emergency.
We all know the basics of what we should be doing to have a healthier lifestyle. The messages about stopping smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet and taking regular exercise are getting through, but there is always more that can be done to improve our lifestyles and keep us healthy.
There is a huge misunderstanding around how much alcohol is healthy to drink and the stark truth is that we are all still drinking too much. Everyone should aim to have two or three alcohol-free days per week, and on the other days drink no more than four units on any one day. Cutting down on alcohol lowers your calorie intake and also reduces your risk of conditions such as liver disease, certain types of cancer and lowers your blood pressure too.
The non-stop pace of modern living means that we are all coping with increasing stress levels and these can have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing. The first step in tackling stress is identifying that you are suffering from it, and then making changes in your lifestyle which tackle the factors which are causing you stress and anxiety. A stressful lifestyle can cause recurrent headaches, problems with blood pressure and insomnia.
We have become increasingly aware of the risks of over exposure to the sun in recent years, but skin cancer rates are skill growing in the UK. Reduce your risk by always using a high factor sunscreen on yourself and your children and make an effort to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day. Sun beds should be avoided as the concentration of rays is more dangerous than exposure to the sun.
Although calorie counting is the best way to keep your weight under control, it is important to make sure you are having enough fibre in your diet to keep your digestive system healthy. The best way to do this is by eating high fibre breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread and plenty of fruit and vegetables.
If you receive a letter inviting you for a mammogram, cervical smear or any other testing, make sure you keep your appointment. Many conditions are easily treatable when caught early, so always attend check-ups and do not hesitate to contact your doctor should you be worried about any aspect of your general health and wellbeing.
The state of British teeth is a bit of a standing joke with our American cousins, but it’s an unfair accusation that Brits don’t look after their mouths. Basic dental treatment is covered on the NHS, but more complex or cosmetic treatment is charged for. Costs can soon mount up if you don’t know what to expect.
A crown is used when a tooth has decayed to the extent that it can no longer be filled effectively. The dentist makes a false tooth which sits on top of your existing tooth on a permanent basis. It is not removed every evening, and is indistinguishable from your own teeth. Many people opt for crowns for cosmetic and practical reasons, but they are not a budget choice. A basic crown can start at around £650 for one tooth.
Implants are the big new thing in the world of dentistry, and new technology never comes cheap. An implant involves the dentist fixing small metal posts into your jaw bone and then attaching new teeth on top. The advantages are that the procedure is suitable for almost everyone, and the results are permanent and natural in appearance. The cost though is what puts most people off implants, as even a basic set can cost upwards of £3000. As the technology becomes more commonplace, the cost may start to come down.
If you’ve ever wondered how the Hollywood stars get such a dazzlingly white smile, the chances are they’ve had a set of veneers fitted. The process involves a thin layer of porcelain being “glued” to the surface of the tooth or teeth. This makes them look smooth, uniform, shiny and very white. The result lasts between 5 and 10 years depending on the material being used, and the cost can be around £5000 and involves several trips to the dentist over the course of many weeks.
If your teeth are squint or twisted, have a brace fitted is the simplest way to straighten them out. Often the braces will be covered by the NHS, but if the dentist deems that your teeth are not sufficiently squint to be covered, you face having to pay around £2,500. Adult teeth cost more to straighten out than children’s teeth and the process will involve initial consultation along with fittings and regular appointments to check that the braces are working in the correct way.
More and more of us are taking out private health insurance policies which cover us either overseas, or for private medical treatment at home. The premium for these sorts of policies can vary hugely depending on the lifestyle choices we make. UK health insurance companies look at a wide range of factors, so what are the best things that we can do to lower our premiums and adopt a more healthy lifestyle?
- Stop smoking. Smoking is one of the biggest health risk factors out there, and in recognition that smokers will be more likely to need medical attention or fall seriously ill, it costs far more to insure the health of a regular smoker. It’s never too late to stop smoking, and there are lots of schemes available through your GP to give you all the help you need.
- Cut down on drinking. The old saying of “a little of what you fancy does you good” is often applied to alcohol, and there is evidence that drinking in moderation have positive benefits. Drinking to excess leads to all sorts of medical and health issues though, and as a nation the UK drinks too much. Cut down the number of units consumed through the week, and do not be tempted to binge at weekends.
- Exercise. Many of us don’t take enough exercise, and getting fitter will also keep us healthier too. Exercise doesn’t have to mean aerobics classes or pumping iron at the gym, little things like walking to work instead of taking the bus or using the stairs instead of always taking the lift can be enough.
- Eat better. We all know what constitutes a healthy diet, but many of us are still eating too many fatty foods and not having enough fruit and vegetables. The 5 a day rule for fruit and vegetables is an important guide, and we could all benefit from eating more fish and cutting down on red meat, dairy products and processed foods such as biscuits or ready meals.
- Reduce stress levels. Stress has been known to greatly affect how healthy we are, and people who have stressful jobs or do not handle pressure well are more likely to get ill. Identifying what is causing stress is the starting point, and help from other members of the family as well as colleagues and friends will be needed to reduce stress factors.
- Drink water. Few of us are keeping our bodies as hydrated as they need to be for optimum health, and experts recommend we should all be drinking around 3 litres of water per day. Staying hydrated will boost general health and keep you feeling in tip top condition.
Although the we usually talk of the UK as a whole when it comes to figures around life expectancy, there are huge discrepancies between different parts of the country, or even between different areas in the same city. Recent studies have drawn a map of UK health, and have shown where the most healthy places UK are.
Kensington and Chelsea
The upmarket London borough of Kensington and Chelsea scores highest than most on scales used to measure how healthy the population is. Cancer deaths in Kensington and Chelsea are 81 per 100,000 compared to areas in the north west of England where deaths from cancer are twice as likely. The average life expectancy in the UK is 76.9 and the figure for Kensington and Chelsea is much higher at 82.2 years.
One of the smaller counties in Scotland, East Dunbartonshire lies to the north of Glasgow and is full of leafy suburbs and affluent residential areas. This is the part of the country with the greatest contrast in life expectancies and health. The average life expectancy for a man in East Dunbartonshire is 79.4 years, almost 8 years longer than a man living just across the county border in the city of Glasgow. In the most deprived areas of Glasgow, the life expectancy for a male is just 54 years, lower than in Iraq or North Korea.
Rural v Urban
Studies have repeatedly shown that people who live in rural areas have a better life expectancy and standard of health than people who live in built up areas, especially large cities. Although some of the difference will be due to income levels, it may well be that a rural lifestyle is more relaxing and factors such as pollution are not as noticeable as in large cities. Small country towns such as Aldeburgh in Suffolk and Hinton St George in Somerset are the most healthy places to live for retired people.
Alcohol and Smoking
One of the main indications of how healthy a population is concerns how much alcohol is drunk by the population. The area of the UK where the lowest amount of alcohol is drunk is the West Midlands, and the highest is the North East and the Yorkshire and Humber areas. 27% of men in these areas drink over 8 units on one day per week. Yorkshire also leads the way when it comes to high smoking levels, with 20% of all adults regular lighting up on cigarettes. The government are trying to address these figures and their knock on effect on health by focusing efforts in these areas to get people to quit smoking.