Building Safety Group reports 18% increase in Occupational Health breaches

24/05/2017 The Building Safety Group (BSG), has reported an 18% increase in the number of Occupational Health breaches recorded during site inspections. The increase is based on over 10,000 independent inspections conducted for the construction industry over a six-month period which compares quarter four 2016 with the first quarter of 2017.

Key contributors to the rise in Occupational Health non-compliances were Dust Fume infringements (up 43%), breaches in Noise (up 23%) and COSHH violations (up 17%). Recent HSE blitzes have concentrated on violations in Occupational Health, frequently leading to FFI (Fees for Intervention) penalties being imposed. BSG’s announcement also coincides with the introduction of the HSE’s construction sector plan, which aims to reduce incidents of ill health with particular focus on occupational lung disease.

Noise at work can cause hearing damage that is permanent and disabling. This can be hearing loss that is gradual because of exposure to noise over time, but also damage caused by sudden, extremely loud noises. Of greater concern is the large rise in Dust Fume non-compliances, which can have a marked detrimental impact on health. Regularly breathing construction dust can cause diseases like lung cancer, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and silicosis. Construction workers have a high risk of developing these diseases because many common construction tasks can create high dust levels. These diseases cause permanent disability and early death. Over 500 construction workers are believed to die from exposure to silica dust every year.

“Anyone who could potentially breathe in these dusts should know the health effects and damage they can do to the lungs and airways. Construction dust is not just a nuisance. It can seriously damage health and cause life changing lung diseases, which is why everyone involved in the industry has a responsibility for managing risks to health, and all parties must take ownership of their part of the process.” commented BSG’s Managing Director, Paul Kimpton.

Kimpton added: “A written health and safety policy is not enough. There must be efficient and effective implementation procedures for occupational health and safety programmes to be successful.”

BSG’s latest non-compliance statistics have been generated from the organisation’s ‘Non-Compliance Reporting Index (NCRI) and relates to the period 1st October 2016 to 31st March 2017.  For more information about how to reduce the risk of Occupational Health disorders, please visit the BSG website

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Work-related stress and mental illness is worse in construction

New research reveals that almost half of construction workers lose sleep from workplace stress with budget concerns, workload and client demands cited as the biggest worries.  Chris Chapman, Technical Support Manager for the BSG (Building Safety Group), the UK’s largest construction safety group looks at the need for an industry-wide mind shift when it comes to stress and mental health issues.

According to a poll by safety barrier manufacturer, A-SAFE, 48% of construction workers are kept awake as a result of workplace stress with some losing more than 10 hours of sleep a week.  Almost 70% in the sector suffer from Sunday night blues, with the data also showing that 16% of workers regularly lose sleep, with a further 32% experiencing occasional loss of sleep.

In addition, the poll of 1,000 people working in the construction industry highlighted: Workload (35%), client demands (25%) and budget concerns (24%) as people’s biggest worries at work. Line management (25%), workplace politics (18%) and salary (14%) were also revealed as factors contributing to loss of sleep.

Last year, a survey amongst construction worker members of UCATT also revealed very real concerns about the prevalence of mental health problems in the construction industry.  The results of that survey found that 64% said they are suffering from stress and a huge 76% said they had at some point suffered stress in the workplace. 30% of respondents have taken time off work due to stress.

With regards to mental health, 35% of respondents said that they were suffering from a mental illness or had suffered from a mental illness. Of these members, 44% had time off due to mental health issues but a staggering 75% had not raised their problems with management. In total 57% of respondents said their workplace had no interest in their mental health. The two main mental health areas that caused the most pain, were depression and anxiety. 75% had experienced depression and 58% anxiety. These are both common throughout society – and are treatable, however shockingly, 72% of respondents said they mentioned absolutely nothing to anyone at work about their problems.

These reports provide some crucial insight into workforce wellbeing in the construction sector. As an industry, we need to take the issues of workplace stress and mental health seriously.  Employees working in construction need to know that their mental health is just as important to us as their physical wellbeing. Workplace stresses can have a huge impact on Health & Safety.  These results suggest that worries at work can have a negative impact on life outside work, leading to actions that could affect work performance.  With that in mind, Building Safety Group are aiming to bring the discussion of mental health in the construction industry to the top of the agenda by working in partnership with construction firms to help them better manage workplace stress and mental health issues.  Talking to someone can begin the healing process and not talking about depression and anxiety in this industry needs to be urgently addressed – for everyone’s health and safety.