Industry urged to take pledge on health
The Government’s Public Health Minister Jane Ellison recently launched the Responsibility Deal Construction Pledge which looks to tackle the poor health among the industry’s workforce.
The pledge asks the industry to focus on the health of its workforce through taking a range of actions such as offering regular health checks, stop smoking clubs and healthier staff canteens. Over 30 construction companies have already taken the pledge to encourage their operatives to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and have made a promise to provide the relevant resources to allow them to do so.
Companies signing up to the pledge are asked to:
- have robust and pragmatic policies and safety procedures in place when dealing with health risks, for example asbestos and carbon monoxide;
- do everything possible to reduce workers’ exposure to substances that cause respiratory disease or breathing difficulty;
- ensure noise on construction sites is kept to a minimum and where necessary workers have hearing protection;
- avoid musculoskeletal disorders caused by unnecessary and hazardous manual handling.
On the launch of this new initiative, Jane Ellison said:
The construction industry is a vital part of the UK economy and it is important we do all that we can to sustain a healthy workforce.
Builders often work in difficult and demanding environments and we must support them to ensure their health is not put at risk.
It’s great that so many firms are making the health of their staff a priority on their sites.
A site canteen offering healthy food
On the announcement of the pledge, the Government noted that almost two million working days were lost due to sickness on construction sites across Britain last year so the industry has come together with the Department of Health to tackle the issue head on.
The Scheme welcomes the news as it too understands the importance of looking after the workforce and promoting a healthier lifestyle to construction workers across the UK. Though the focus on health is excellent news for the industry, sites and companies that register with the Scheme are already making great strides in promoting health and wellbeing to their operatives.
The Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice is split into five sections, including one titled ‘Caring for the Workforce’. Contained within this section are questions which specifically relate to the health of operatives on site, such as ‘How is the health and wellbeing of the workforce assessed and addressed?’.
An operative having his blood pressure checked
Year on year, as sites and companies continue to set ever higher benchmarks in considerate construction, the level of care given to the workforce improves which results in construction workers benefitting from a wide range of services that improve their overall health.
The Scheme’s newsletter Industry Image regularly features case studies on how registered sites and companies adhere to the Code and there are plenty of great examples of how the industry is already addressing health and wellbeing. Examples include offering occupational health nurses, on-site chiropodists, stop smoking clubs, talks and sessions on cancers, as well as tests for blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Though it is essential to consider the workforce’s health, such as diet and healthy living, it is also just as important to think about the mental health of operatives as this can have an effect on a person’s overall wellbeing. Many registered sites and companies consider this just as crucial as physical health, and offer a number of services to aid operatives should they need help, such as financial advice and stress management.
The Scheme fully supports the Government’s efforts in combatting poor health among the industry’s workforce and is delighted that a great number of contractors have already taken the pledge to improve standards. Not only is the Government’s focus on health directly aligned with the Scheme’s Code, it also demonstrates the industry’s continued commitment to improve the image of construction.