Whilst there have been big improvements over recent years in reducing the number and rate of injuries to construction workers, it remains a high-risk industry and accounts for a high percentage of fatal and major injuries.
According to the HSE the main reasons why construction workers are at a high risk of injury or ill health are:
- The construction site environment– unlike a factory, construction work takes place in many and varied environments. Different sites can present a range of health risks, including existing ones like asbestos. The extent of these risks can also vary between areas of the same site.
- The dynamic nature of the work– construction sites are constantly changing, and many trades may all be carrying out tasks potentially dangerous to their health and that of others.
- Risk appreciation– there is generally a low awareness of health risks and the controls needed. It can take many years for serious ill health conditions to develop, and the immediate consequence of a harmful workplace exposure may often be dismissed as not significant compared to the immediate impact of injuries caused by accidents.
- Employment– many workers are either self-employed, work for small companies, or frequently change employers. Others work away from home. These situations can make it problematical for workers to easily look after their own health and they often have little or no contact with occupational health professionals.
So how can these risks be avoided?
Health surveillance is a systematic and proactive approach to monitoring and managing the health of construction workers and consists of repeated and regulated health checks.
Whilst a main benefit of Health Surveillance in construction is to remain compliant with legislation, for employees who are exposed to risks, the real value is much more. It is a vital part of keeping people safe and healthy in the construction and demolition sectors.
Laying the Foundations for Worker Safety
Construction workers face a myriad of risks, including falls from height, heavy machinery accidents, exposure to hazardous materials, and repetitive strain injuries. Health surveillance acts as a first line of defence, ensuring that workers undergo regular health assessments to detect hazards which they can be exposed to, and which should be actively monitored. These assessments provide a comprehensive overview of a worker’s health, enabling employers to tailor safety measures and training programs to address specific risks.
Demolition involves the dismantling of structures, transforming landscapes, and managing hazardous materials. Without effective health surveillance, workers could be exposed to harmful substances like asbestos, lead, and other toxins. Regular health monitoring ensures that workers receive proper training, protective equipment, and medical evaluations to minimise potential risks.
Safeguarding Workers Mental Health
Providing support for workers mental health is so important because the demanding nature of construction work can take a toll on workers’ mental health, leading to stress and burnout. Through health surveillance, employers can identify stressors and create supportive environments that prioritise worker mental health, resulting in increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover rates.
Health surveillance is critical for people in the construction and demolition sectors to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. It is essential to have a program that promotes health practices, measures workplace hazards, assesses employee well-being and complies with safety standards in the sector.
Combining our clinical and business expertise, we can work with you to understand and evaluate your business needs and its health challenges to develop a truly tailored occupational health strategy that works. If you would like to discuss any of our Health surveillance services please get in touch with us today, alternatively why not try our new Business Health Evaluation Tool to determine your occupational health needs. It saves you money and time; and we will help you to assess your requirements.
If you would rather come and meet us in person to discuss your company needs we have Drop-in sessions available to book and we would love to meet you.