The need for a continued focus on the protection of workers in the construction industry will be addressed at the first annual conference organised by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Construction Group on 7 November.
The conference will explore mental health issues, musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory diseases caused at work – and how these issues affect a considerable number of workers in the construction industry.
Statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that, in Great Britain, 526,000 workers suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety; 507,000 workers suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders, with a high proportion working in construction; and the construction industry has the largest burden of occupational cancers among industrial sectors, with over 40% of the occupational cancer deaths and cancer registrations from construction and allied trades.
Figures published this week by the HSE show that a total of 144 workers were killed at work in Great Britain in 2017/18, with 38 deaths in the construction industry, accounting for the greatest number of occupational fatalities from an individual sector.
It is estimated that for every one of these deaths, 100 workers died in the same year from occupational cancers.
The conference is aimed at safety practitioners, health and safety leaders and employers. The core focus is to enable those working in construction, including SMEs and those supporting them, to take positive action to improve the health of their workforce.
Dr Michael Cash, Chair of the IOSH Construction Group, said, “The main focus of the conference will be delivering health improvements in the construction industry and will be closely aligned with the [UK] HSE’s construction sector strategy.
“Unfortunately, the statistics speak for themselves, with huge numbers dying each year from past exposure to dusts and chemicals at work and one in four suffering from a mental health problem.
“The micro and SME sectors find the management of health particularly challenging. We hope that our conference will enable delegates to go back to their organisations and take positive action to improve the health of their workforce.”
The event is being held at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Manchester Airport.
Among the speakers at the event will be Chris Lucas, a Principal Inspector at the UK Health and Safety Executive; Eric Ball, of Park Health; and Dr Wendy Jones, a Senior Researcher in occupational health at Loughborough University.