Men's Health Week 14th-20th June - How do we move forward in construction?
As has always been the case, employers have a legal duty to protect workers from harm at work by doing risk assessment and acting on it. The earlier a problem is tackled the less impact it will have on workers and business.
So what are the key health considerations for the construction sector?
Stress, depression, and anxiety are the second biggest cause of work-related ill health in the construction industry. Recognising the signs of stress will help employers to take steps to prevent, reduce, and manage stress in the workplace.
If you already have a risk assessment in place, consider whether you need to re-assess the situation due to changes and challenges brought about by covid-19. Social distancing, working from home (where possible) and all the other safeguards that have been put in place may have changed or created new stress.
Starting the conversation is an important first step in preventing issues. The Construction Stress Talking Toolkit is aimed at small businesses with a regular workforce (employed and contracted) who want to start looking at this issue. It will also help site managers wanting to identify project-specific issues.
Download the toolkit here for practical step-by-step guidance on how to begin and structure those difficult conversations.
Moving and handling materials
Pain and strain shouldn’t be a part of work. If your workers lift and carry materials as part of their job they could be at increased risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These include pain in the back, neck, arms, or legs, which can develop over a period of time.
Workers in construction are some of the most at risk, but there are things employers and workers can do such as planning ahead to deliver materials closer to where they’re needed, reducing loads and using equipment and lifting aids to reduce the strain.
Preventing lung damage
Last year in the UK, 12,000 people died from lung diseases estimated to be linked to past exposure from work in a range of sectors. Breathing in certain gases, fumes, vapours, and dusts on site can cause serious, long-term lung damage. The construction industry is a high-risk sector.
Check that the risk assessment control measures you have in place at work are effective to protect against work-related lung diseases such as asbestosis, silicosis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer. These diseases cause severe, often incurable, health problems if the risks are not managed.