This guest post is from Roberts Jackson, a law firm dedicated to giving advice to those who need be it regarding injuries in the workplace or illness. You can visit their site here for more information about them: www.robertsjackson.co.uk.
What health hazards and industrial conditions exist in the construction industry, and what should employers be doing to protect their workers from harm?
Five common industrial conditions suffered by manual workers
While employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees at work – which many businesses do adhere to – there are still a number of organisations that are failing to reduce the risk of industrial illnesses and conditions faced by construction and other manual workers.
Across 2012 and 2013, construction was considered to be one of the most dangerous industries, with this report showing that it accounted for 27% of fatal injuries and 10% of major injuries that took place in the UK. Meanwhile, accidents like the one suffered by industrial workers in Texas are still being reported on, suggesting that more could be being done to protect the health and safety of manual workers.
Health risks within the construction industry
Both employers and employees should be aware of the health hazards within the construction industry, which can cause long-term and serious work-related illnesses and conditions.
For manual workers, they are at risk of suffering from:
- Noise Induced Hearing Loss: Building and construction workplaces can be loud and noisy as tools and machinery that produce excessive noise levels are often present. Employees should be provided with ear protection, while employers must look to reduce or control any hazards through the introduction of such measures as low-noise tools, proper machine maintenance and sound barriers.
- Vibration White Finger: The excessive use of vibratory tools and machinery can result in a worker suffering from vibration white finger, which can cause great pain and discomfort. Frequent breaks, equipment training, machine maintenance and regular health checks at work can help to reduce the risk of construction and manual workers suffering from the condition.
- Occupational Asthma: Building and construction sites where air-borne chemicals or substances are present such as cement dust and metal filings can cause workers to suffer from breathing problems. Protective equipment should be made available to employees, while proper ventilation and safety barriers can be implemented in order to reduce the risk of occupational asthma.
- Occupational Dermatitis: Working with oils, chemicals or fuels can irritate the skin and cause occupational dermatitis if the correct health and safety measures are not in place. Therefore, an employer should provide gloves and moisturiser, reduce exposure and review work practices in order to prevent the skin condition from being at problem amongst their staff.
- Cumulative Back Strain: Lifting, digging and other strenuous manual work can cause cumulative back strain in employees who carry out such work without proper training. Employers should look to introduce carts, forklifts and hoists, review their working environment and provide employee training in order to make any lifting performed by their workers entirely safe.
Building sites that fail to implement the necessary health and safety measures not only leave construction workers at risk of sustaining industrial injuries and conditions, but also leave their business open to related disputes and Tribunals. By reducing the health hazards present in a working environment, employers can save themselves from legal action and also protect their employees from work-related health issues.