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CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY CHIEFS HEALTH SUMMIT

Vital that industry takes action to improve health as well as safety

Construction chiefs held a Construction Health Summit on 21st January 2016 and committed to improving health standards and to replicate the cultural shift seen in the industry which led to reduction in on-site injuries and deaths.

The summit was 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.”

The summit brought together key business leaders with speakers including Judith Hackitt CBE, Chair of HSE; Justin Tomlinson Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Health and Safety; Andy Mitchell, CEO of Thames Tideway; Andrew Wolstenholme, CEO of Crossrail and Co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council; and Sir Malcolm Grant, Chairman of NHS England.

Every year, the construction sector loses 1.2 million working days due to work-related ill health. Construction leaders are seeking ways to ensure that demand for construction services is met by maintaining a healthy, productive workforce.

Construction Industry Health ‘Lightbulb Moment’

Those attending heard that UK construction workers are estimated to be 100 times more likely to die from occupational disease than accidents and the summit explored the real cost of work related ill health.

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 exposure to asbestos (70%) and silica (17%).

The summit explored 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.

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.”

CEO of Crossrail and co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, Andrew Wolstenholme OBE, said

“We have to do more. Remember where you were on the 21 January 2016. This is the industry’s light bulb moment.”

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