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Guidance should help stop workers dying from occupational diseases

The construction industry has launched new guidance to encourage better management of occupational health risks.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors issued more than 200 health-related enforcement notices during the recent HSE construction inspection initiative to put an end to the hundreds of construction workers that die of occupational diseases every month.

It highlighted the widespread misunderstanding of what “occupational health” means in the sector and employers’ misguided perception that health is more difficult to manage than safety.

Occupational health risk management in construction has been written by the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (ConIAC) Health Risks Working Group and formatted with the assistance of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

It gives practical advice on what “health risk” means for the construction industry and the role of occupational health service provision in preventing or controlling those risks.

HSE principal specialist inspector Ian Strudley said: “The misunderstanding of occupational health within the construction sector means that while the industry focuses on managing the more familiar safety issues, serious health risks get ignored. We cannot let this continue.

“When figures show that construction workers are at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work as they are from a fatal accident, the industry must take action.”

IOSH executive director Shelley Frost said the guide raised awareness of occupational health issues in construction, demystified how to best manage them and provided information as to where firms can get help and assistance.

He added that if the advice was followed, it could help to lower incidence rates of occupational ill health and transform the perception of working in construction to that of an attractive and respectful industry with great career choices.

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