Safety has long been a priority for the construction industry, yet workers are 100 times more likely to die from occupational disease than from accidents. The ‘Health’ in Health & Safety is often overlooked, however it appears that this is about to change.
March 7, 2016
Chief executives of the UK’s biggest contractors and clients attended a breakfast summit organised by the Health in Construction Leadership Group, with the CEOs of Balfour Beatty, Mace, Costain and Skanska joining over 150 other leaders in Mayfair.
A phrase repeated during the day was that the industry still ”shouts about safety, but whispers about health”. The group came together to discuss the industry’s lack of a clear focus on the ‘health’ part of health and safety. Fatal accidents on site reach the news, with 35 people losing their lives in the industry in 2014/15.
Delegates at the summit were told:
- How asbestos is still responsible for 2,600 deaths each year in construction;
- That construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than a fall from height;
- That there were 69,000 cases of self-reported illness in the industry in 2014/15, costing £1.3bn in lost work days (20 per cent were related to mental health).
The Considerate Constructors Scheme runs an industry helpline for workers through wristbands it sells inscribed with a phone number so that not only can workers call to discuss personal health or financial issues, but their families can too.
As the event drew to a close, more than 150 industry leaders pledged their commitment to the health agenda by nominating someone in their business who will take on health as an area of responsibility. They will regroup in April to formulate an industrywide action plan for health. This is a really exciting development in the construction industry and we will look forward to sharing further developments with you. In the meantime consider what your organisation is doing to combat ill health, could you and should you do more?