Construction companies of all sizes are being urged to provide at least one employee with occupational (OH) awareness training following a new report from Loughborough University which highlighted the lack of training particularly in SMEs.
The report from Loughborough University, Improving occupational health risk management in SMEs: the role of major projects, looked into how major projects such as the construction of the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) can support their supply chain to develop good practices in occupational health.
The research, which was carried out in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering at Loughborough University, was made possible after they were named recipients of the B&CE Charitable Trust OH Research Award 2016 worth £25,000.
In light of the report’s findings, B&CE are calling for Occupational Health Training to be more commonplace within all sizes of organisations, plus improved training materials and increased education regarding OH obligations.
Commenting, Margaret Grahamslaw, Head of Occupational Health at B&CE, said: “These recommendations centre around the importance of training in occupational health awareness to ultimately improve the wellbeing of workers in the construction industry across the UK. By ensuring at least one member of staff in any company, regardless of size, is trained in this area, this can encourage the spread of knowledge in both common OH issues and those that are less well understood.
“We’re grateful that our charitable trust could provide Loughborough University with the funds to facilitate this important research and look forward to using our joint voices in the industry to make these recommendations a reality in construction.”
Lead researcher, Dr Wendy Jones, Loughborough University said: “Health often ends up as the poor relation of safety in construction, and it can be particularly difficult for smaller companies that don’t always have the right expertise, or who have limited budgets, to get the right arrangements in place. This research found that some small and micro employers are improving their management of hazards such as dust and musculoskeletal disorders as a result of working on major projects such as the building of the DNRC, which the research was centred on. This is good news and confirms that good practices ‘trickle down’ through the sector for health, as they do for safety.
“We still have a long way to go, particularly in terms of the way we educate our workers, managers and OH professionals about managing health risks and the way the industry manages health surveillance: but this research shows we are heading in the right direction.”
The research report, which includes recommendations for those leading on major construction projects and for the industry more widely is available here.
The B&CE Charitable Trust OH Research Award is awarded annually to research initiatives that aim to improve the occupational health in the construction industry. Applications for the 2019 award open later this year.
Source: UK Construction Online