A new guide has been published by construction experts to encourage better management at construction sites and reduce the number of accidents on construction sites.
It is hoped that not only will the guide reduce the number of accidents, but also minimise the number of occupational diseases that affect hundreds of construction workers every week.
Despite numerous efforts from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and safety campaigners, the construction industry is still a dangerous sectors to work in the UK with one of the highest numbers of fatal and serious accidents each year. Sadly a large number of these accidents are as a result of poor management and a failure to comply with health and safety guidance.
Although the industry has improved its’ reputation concerning accidents, the industry has done little to prevent workplace illnesses and occupational diseases. During the last inspection by HSE officers, more than 200 health-related enforcement notices were issued as part of their construction inspection initiative. This highlights the fact that many employers in the construction industry believe ‘occupational health’ is more difficult to manage than safety.
Such is the emphasis placed on preventing accidents over preventing occupational illnesses, recent research has found that construction workers are at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work as they are from a fatal accident. Recent statistics found that each week, 100 people die from construction-related ill health in the UK. Less than half of construction workers also stay employed in the industry until they are 60 due to the high risk of injury or illness.
Due to the dangerous nature of construction, which can involve working with heavy machinery, dealing with a number of chemicals and adverse weather conditions, those working in the industry are likely to suffer from a number of fatal or serious illnesses such as occupational asthma, lung disease and even hand arm vibration syndrome as a result of using machinery.
The new guide ‘Occupational health risk management in construction’ PDFhas been written by the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (ConIAC) Health Risks Working Group and formatted with the assistance of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). The guide highlights the health risks and the dangers that can occur from neglecting health and safety in the workplace.
Ian Strudley, Chair of the ConIAC Health Risks Working Group and HSE Principal Specialist Inspector, said: “The misunderstanding of occupational health within the construction sector means that whilst the industry focus on managing the more familiar safety issues, serious health risks get ignored. We cannot let this continue."
Shelley Frost, Executive Director at IOSH, said: “There have been huge advances in improving safety in the construction sector over the last 15 years, but the industry has yet to generate such advances in improving the picture in occupational health.
“This new guide raises awareness of the occupational health issues in construction, demystifies how to best manage them and provides information as to where firms can get help and assistance.”
She added: “Ultimately if the advice is followed, it could help to lower incidence rates of occupational ill-health.”
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