Construction industry to launch national OH scheme

A health management scheme for the construction industry will be launched later this year following the evaluation of the ‘Constructing Better Health’ (CBH) pilot scheme launched in 2004, but it will face a daunting challenge.

The scheme aims to set standards for health surveillance, health checks and medical screening for return to work, Michelle Aldous, director of Constructing Better Health, told delegates to a CBH conference in London last month.

“We need to ensure that whatever is delivered by those OH providers is delivered to a consistent standard,” said Aldous “We have a very limited resource available to us who are familiar with the very specific needs of the industry,” she added.

Aldous said the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, whose members carry a smart card, should, in future, include information about fitness to work on the smart card, although not confidential medical data.

The industry faces specific OH challenges including multi-employer sites, a mobile workforce, self-employed and casual workers, subcontracting, a largely male workforce and macho culture. Employees have above-average incidents of hearing loss, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.

John Spanswick, chairman of Major Constractors Group (which represents the larger firms in the sector) and a Health and Safety Commission commissioner said: “On the health and safety side we have made ground – we need to create the same sort of awareness of OH issues. Across the industry there is not really a definition of what OH is. Some people think it’s going around handing out aspirins.”

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