New guidance seeks to improve the management of occupational health risks, with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) hoping to see a fall in the number of occupational disease-related deaths in the construction industry.
A new guide, written by the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (ConIAC) Health Risks Working Group, provides practical advice on health risks within the construction industry, along with the role of occupational health services in managing the risks.
Chair of the ConIAC Health Risks Working Group and HSE Principal Specialist Inspector, Ian Strudley, stated: “The misunderstanding of occupational health within the construction sector means that whilst the industry focus on managing the more familiar safety issues, serious health risks get ignored. We cannot let this continue.
“When figures show that construction workers are at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work as they are from a fatal accident, the industry must take action.”
Occupational Disease and Work-Related Illnesses: Facts and Figures
A recent Labour Force Survey (LFS) revealed the following:
- In 2014/15 an estimated 1.2 million workers suffered an illness thought to be caused or made worse by work.
- Each year approximately 13,000 deaths are caused by exposure to chemicals and dusts at work.
Often it is a lack of awareness regarding health and safety in a workplace that leads to injuries and, in these cases, occupational disease. The risk management cycle, as outlined in the HSE’s guide, illustrates the importance of identifying hazards, assessing risks, selecting controls, implementing and recording findings, and monitoring and reviewing any risks.
Whereas accidents can happen at work, if you are working in an environment with known hazards, your employer must ensure that any risks are removed. For example, where there is dust or chemicals that could lead to an occupational disease, protective clothing should be provided as well as ventilation. If an employer neglects to make you aware of known hazards, they are liable for an industrial disease claim in the event you are affected as a result.
The new guidance for the construction industry is, therefore, entirely welcome if it means that more employers within the industry will take note and put into place actions that will put a stop to occupational disease.
Dominic Smith is national operations co-ordinator at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
If you have believe that you have suffered an industrial disease as a result of working conditions, previous or current, call Slater and Gordon today. We offer a free consultation and most claims are dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis.
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