21st Jan, 2020 Read time 3 minutes

How the construction industry is trying to improve its record on health and safety

The proper management of health and safety is vital no matter what industry you are working with, however, in sectors where there is a routine operation of heavy machinery and dangerous materials, the correct management becomes even more safety-critical.

The construction industry remains a dangerous sector to work in. In 2018-2019, 43 workers died from onsite incidents and construction also has a poor record of dealing with the mental health of employees with many turning to substance abuse, creating a vicious cycle of poor health and safety practices.

The business standard aimed at improving health and safety in construction

Formal health and safety standards are used to try and keep everyone to the same framework and ensure consistency across the management process. ISO45001 is the latest in a series of international frameworks that aims to give managers what they need to safeguard the mental and physical health of those working on construction sites.

ISO 45001 promotes the use of proactive rather than reactive leadership and a more comprehensive framework for managing risk within a construction firm. The new framework has been introduced by the business improvement company, BSI.

Deaths in construction are often caused by falling from heights, which is why there is a large focus on improving safety record and protective equipment. One of the ways construction workers deal with this is through providing the ‘training at heights’ method.


More is being done to safeguard the mental health of workers

Whilst the industry has a disproportionately high number of fatal incidents compared to other similar industries, many state that working on a construction site can have long term implications for both mental and physical health.

According to the Health and Safety Executive  2.3 million working days are lost each year in the construction injury due to work related injuries and illnesses.

The introduction of mental health first aiders is a movement in the industry to help people talk about their feelings and experiences with work more. Often the mental health first-aider role falls to the responsibility of the site manager. Whilst they are well-positioned to get an idea of the mental health of everyone on-site, they do have to oversee a lot of different aspects that are important on a construction site.

Many feel this is why the introduction of ISO 45001 is important in spreading the responsibility for proper mental health management across an organisation. In alignment with the new ISO 45001, many site managers are introducing ‘toolbox talks’ focused around mental health.

A Toolbox talk is essentially a short presentation/discussion on a safety-related issue in construction. They help in getting other perspectives on health and safety issues and encouraging open discussion between workers.


Open discussion is essential for continued improvement

When it comes to managing mental and physical health it is agreed that a long-term approach with constant improvement is essential to continue to reduce the number of incidents and sickness days present in the construction industry.

New standards like ISO 45001 will be improved and reiterated over time and it is essential to stay up to date with the latest practices as well as other issues in the field of health and safety.

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