Summit to tackle construction industry health problems

Industry leaders will come together at a summit to explore ways of eradicating ill health and disease in the construction sector.

17 December 2015

IOSH will be among the organisations at the inaugural Construction Health Summit in London, which is being held to address the shocking statistic that deaths as a result of occupational disease are 100 times more likely than deaths by accidents.

Occupational cancer in the construction industry, for example, currently accounts for over 40% of cancer deaths and registrations in the workplace. The most significant cause of these cancers is exposure to asbestos (70%) and silica (17%).

IOSH is currently raising awareness about work-related cancer with its No Time to Lose campaign. More than 60 organisations across the world, including some major construction firms, have made a pledge to do what they can to reduce workers’ exposure potentially-harmful carcinogens.

The summit, being held on 21 January 2016, will also explore what can be done to address other causes of ill health. These include 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.

With research showing that most occupational ill health is preventable, the summit will discuss the changes that are needed to ensure employees have long, healthy and productive working lives.

Leo Quinn, Chief Executive of construction firm Balfour Beatty, 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.”

Chair of the HSE, Judith Hackitt CBE, said: “The number of on-site related fatalities has fallen by two-thirds in the past ten 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.”

Every year, the construction sector loses 1.2 million working days due to work-related ill health, yet with an unprecedented number of major projects in the pipeline, the demand for construction workers is greater than ever. Construction leaders are seeking ways to ensure this demand is met by maintaining a healthy, productive workforce.

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.

It is being organised by the Health in Construction Leadership Group, a recently-established collaborative group comprising contractors, clients, HSE, professional bodies, trade associations and trade unions.

IOSH is an active member of the group, which aims to unite the construction industry to eliminate the risk of workers contracting health problems.

Contact Tim Walsh, IOSH Media Manager
+44 (0)116 257 3252
+44 (0)797 660 4715