Construction industry leaders are throwing their weight behind attempts to reduce the everyday health risks faced by construction workers in their workplace.
The inaugural Construction Health Summit will be held in London on 21st January 2016, bringing together key players in the industry to address the fact that occupational disease kills far more construction workers than site accidents.
While much has been done over the years to improve the management of site safety, health has often been a secondary consideration.
Last year, 35 construction workers were fatally injured at work while 3,500 died from occupational lung cancer and thousands more died from other work-related respiratory health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The summit will also explore what can be done to address these and 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.
Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn 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.”
Health & Safety Executive chair Judith Hackitt said: “The number of on-site related fatalities has fallen by two-thirds in the past 10 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.”
The construction sector loses 1.2 million working days every year due to work-related ill health.
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.
The Construction Health Summit is being organised by the Health in Construction Leadership Group, a recently established collaborative group comprising contractors, clients, the HSE, professional bodies, trade associations and trade unions.