Work right campaign: moving and handling materials
From Monday 3rd October, site inspections are being carried out at construction sites across the UK by the HSE.
Construction sites are being targeted as part of a health inspection initiative supported by the ‘Work Right Construction: Your health. Your future‘ campaign and inspections will focus on moving and handling materials.
The campaign is raising awareness of health issues in relation to moving and handling materials to improve the long-term health of those working in construction.
Inspectors will be checking that employers and workers know the risks, plan their work and are using sensible control measures to protect workers from injuries and aches, pain and discomfort in joints, muscles and bones known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
With an estimated 40,000 construction workers suffering from work-related MSDs last year, these injuries can have a serious impact on workers’ ability to perform tasks; their quality of life; and in some cases, their ability to stay in work and earn a living. Many can and do suffer from long-term pain and discomfort.
Matt Birtles, principal ergonomist at HSE, said: “Serious aches, pains and strains can affect every part of someone’s life. They can struggle to get themselves dressed and undressed, they can be unable to pick up their children or grandchildren.
“They can struggle to sit down and stand up, they can struggle to keep still and move around. The most intimate parts of their lives can be severely affected – they might be desperate to go the toilet but find themselves unable.
“It’s not something that many people feel comfortable talking about, perhaps particularly on a building site, but if your back has gone or if you’re in agony whenever you move your arms, measures need to be put in place to address the causes.”
Employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers from ill health and should involve them in managing the risks to their health just as they would with safety.
Workers should not have to accept these injuries and potential long-term suffering as an inevitable part of construction work. They should talk to their employer about the risks and the measures in place to protect their health.
HSE’s head of construction, Sarah Jardine said: “Inspectors are visiting a range of construction sites to check the action businesses are taking to ensure their workers are being protected.
“Everyone involved in construction has a role to play in keeping people safe. Risks must be managed where they can’t be prevented, and risk management arrangements must be reviewed frequently to ensure they are effective.
“We want everyone in the industry, from designers to contractors and their workers, to be aware of the risks associated with any moving or lifting task and put appropriate measures in place.
“This is a significant health issue for tens of thousands of construction workers and can lead to a lifetime of terrible aches and pains. The health of workers must be considered when planning construction work so that they can carry out their jobs without fear of injuring themselves, including being provided with the correct equipment to lift safely.
“Thankfully there are measures that can be taken to prevent injuries to muscles, bones, joints and nerves. Doing so is good for workers and good for the construction industry. It’s good for business.”
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