At first glance the fact the Royal Mint is joining “austerity Britain” and introducing cheaper, nickel-plated coins might appear to be an arcane “so what” issue for most employees and employers.
But, as a group of dermatologists from the St John’s Institute of Dermatology and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield have highlighted in the journal BMJ, its cost-cutting could have significant health implications for people operating in businesses, like retail, where cash changes hand all the time. It’s therefore something employers, HR and occupational health professionals will need to remain vigilant about.
The authors of the report have warned that the Royal Mint has carried out no studies or assessments on how the coins might affect employees, perhaps with hand eczema or dermatitis already, who have a nickel allergy and yet end up handling the money. There was “no information on nickel-release from the new coins” and little, if any, consideration had been given to the potential costs to health in terms of skin disease, financial implications to the NHS or other costs to the taxpayer, they have argued.
Of course, this might all end up a storm in a, er, piggy-bank. But, given the authors also warned that Sweden’s Riksbank had recently concluded nickel-plated coins posed “unacceptable risks to health” clearly this is a health issue that, at the very least, employers should be aware of. As the coins come into wide circulation, nickel allergy-related cases may begin to emerge and affect workplaces.
If the economy wasn’t in such a bad way, it might be grimly ironic to recognise that, on the one hand we have the Bank of England pumping electronic money into the economy to try and get it moving while, on the other, we have the Royal Mint allegedly pumping out money that might – just might – bring some workers to a grinding halt.
Tags: allergies, Atos, Atos Healthcare, health implications, nickelplate coins, Occupational Health, pumping electronic money, risks to health, skin disease, unacceptable risks to health, wellbeing at work