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CONSTRUCTION CHIEFS RAISE STAKES ON HEALTH

Leaders come together to improve health standards in construction

The inaugural Construction Health Summit, to be held in London on 21 January 2016, will bring together key players in the construction industry to address the shocking statistic that deaths, as a result of occupational disease, are 100 times more likely than deaths by accidents.

The Summit is being organised by the Health in Construction Leadership Group, comprising contractors, clients, HSE, professional bodies, trade associations and trade unions. The Group mission is to unite the construction industry in eradicating ill health and disease caused by exposure to health hazards, with a view to ensuring construction is the leading industry for occupational health and disease prevention.

Occupational cancer in the construction industry currently accounts for over 40% of cancer deaths and registrations in the workplace. The most significant cause of these cancers is asbestos (70%) followed by silica (17%) as well as working as a painter and with diesel engine exhaust fumes (6-7% each).

The summit will also explore what can be done to address other causes of ill health, including;

  • breathing and lung problems caused by exposure to dust and diesel emissions;
  • dermatitis caused by hazardous substances;
  • ill health caused by noise and vibration as well as back injuries and upper limb disorders.

Many construction processes emit dusts, fumes, vapours or gases into the air and these, if not properly controlled, can be significant causes of breathing problems and lung diseases such as COPD. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are common types of COPD.

With research showing that most occupational ill health is preventable, the summit will discuss the changes that are needed to ensure employees have long, healthy and productive working lives.

Vital to looks at what more can be done

Every year, the construction sector loses 1.2 million working days due to work-related ill health, yet with an unprecedented number of major projects in the pipeline, the demand for construction workers is greater than ever.

The Construction Health Summit will seek to replicate the cultural shift seen in the industry that led to dramatic reduction in on-site injuries and fatalities, to treat health like safety.

Leo Quinn, Chief Executive of Balfour Beatty, said:

“When 100 times more UK construction workers die from occupational disease than from accidents, it’s vital that the industry looks at what more can be done in order to improve health as well as safety.”

Chair of the HSE, Judith Hackitt CBE, said:

“The number of on-site related fatalities has fallen by two-thirds in the past ten years due to a concerted and joined up effort by the construction industry. We can have a similar impact on the health of the workforce with an equally determined effort by the industry and its supporting organisations.”

 

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