Construction giants are meeting to see what can be done to reduce the number of preventable ill health and disease cases in the industry.
Figures show that deaths as a result of occupational disease are 100 times more likely than deaths by accidents. The inaugural Construction Health Summit (January 21) in London aims to address this statistic and raise awareness of builders’ diseases.
In the construction industry, occupational cancer accounts for over 40% of cancer deaths and registrations in the workplace.
It is caused by exposure to carcinogens – agents that cause the development or increase the incidence of cancer – in the workplace.
There are three different types of occupational carcinogens:
- Biological carcinogens, such as Hepatitis B and HIV viruses
- Chemical carcinogens, like asbestos and vinyl chloride
- Physical carcinogens, examples of which include alpha, beta and gamma radiation
The most common cause of occupational cancers is exposure to asbestos (70%) and silica
Judith Hackitt, chair of the Health and Safety Executive, says the number of on-site related fatalities has fallen by two-thirds in the past 10 years thanks to a concerted effort by the construction industry. She hopes for a similar impact on the health of the workforce with an equally determined effort by the industry.
The construction sector loses 1.2 million working days to work-related ill health every year. In a bid to significantly reduce this figure, the summit will also explore what can be done to address other causes of ill health.
Breathing and lung problems caused by exposure to dust and diesel emissions will be on the agenda, as will dermatitis caused by hazardous substances.
With an unprecedented number of major construction projects in the pipeline over the coming years, the demand for construction workers is greater than ever before. Construction leaders want to ensure this demand is met by maintaining a healthy, productive workforce.
Source: Balfour Beatty
Date Published: February 7, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown