The concept of occupational health is an area that there has been growing understanding in recent times. Where employers have a responsibility, not just in terms of safety, but also looking after the long-term health of construction workers and limiting the potential damage that can result from lifting heavy items, falling from heights and not wearing the appropriate PPE, such as hard hats, whilst on site.
This latest construction campaign to prevent ill health from moving and handling materials is supported by the Work Right Construction: Your Health, Your Future campaign, which is aimed at improving the long-term health of those working in construction and will start from the 4th September 2023.
- Around 42,000 construction workers suffer musculoskeletal disorder (MSDs) which can cause years of agonising aches and pains
- Serious aches, pains and strains can affect every part of someone’s life
- Construction site inspections focused on moving and handling in materials throughout September and October
From 4 September 2023, HSE inspectors will be carrying out inspections of construction sites, focusing on the health risks of moving and handling materials on site.
Working in construction is a physically demanding job and many construction workers’ health is suffering due to pain in muscles, bones, joints and nerves that affect every aspect of their lives and in many cases their ability to work and earn a living.
Matt Birtles, principal ergonomist at HSE, said: “It is important that the issue of manual handling is not downplayed. Serious aches, pains and strains should not be accepted as routine when working in construction. These can dramatically affect every part of someone’s life – with sufferers struggling to get themselves dressed and undressed, and unable to pick up their children or grandchildren.
“The culture of a site may mean many people feel uncomfortable talking about these issues but if your back has gone or if you’re in agony whenever you move your arms, measures need to be put in place to address the causes.”
Moving and handling heavy or bulky objects on construction sites is needlessly harming the health of tens of thousands of workers every year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning construction workers that the long-term impact on their health can leave them struggling to stand, walk, or sit down.
The law requires employers to control the risks of ill health of their workers, which includes pain in muscles, bones, joints and nerves that can develop over time, known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). However, in the most recent period an estimated 42,000 people in the construction industry suffered from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, which can cause years of agonising aches and pains. This amounts to 53% of all ill health in the construction sector.
If moving and lifting is managed properly, a physical job on a building site should not disrupt every part of workers’ lives.
Before work starts, moving and handling risks should be considered and prevented where possible at the design stage. Once on site, employers should talk to workers about controlling existing risks and make sure appropriate measures are in place, such as the right training, aids and equipment.
“Everyone involved in construction has a role to play in keeping people safe and healthy. We want everyone in the industry, from designers to contractors and their workers, to be aware of the risks associated with any moving or lifting task and put appropriate measures in place.
“The health of workers must be considered when planning construction work so that they can carry out their jobs without fear of injuring themselves or developing aches, pains and strains, including being provided with the correct equipment to lift and move materials safely.” HSE’s Acting Head of Construction Division Mike Thomas
Workplace fatalities – the facts
Between 2019 and 2020, 111 people were killed as a result of accidents in the workplace. Over 75% of these fatalities occurred in the following four industries:
- Construction: 40 deaths
- Agriculture and forestry: 20 deaths
- Manufacturing: 15 deaths
- Transport and storage: 11 deaths
These deaths occurred as a result of the following sorts of accidents:
- Falls from height: 29 deaths
- Struck by a moving vehicle: 20 deaths
- Struck by a moving object: 18 deaths
- Trapped by something falling/collapsing: 15 deaths
- Contact with moving machinery: 11 deaths
Want to know more?
At Safety first we help you to maintain excellent health and safety for your workforce, and to ensure that you meet the required compliance regulations for several areas of workplace health and safety.
Get in touch with our qualified team to talk through your individual requirements. We can draft a proposal to you from an initial conversation with a view to visiting your premises to scope out the volume of work and provide a quote on your individual requirements.