SOM (the Society of Occupational Medicine) has launched guidance for occupational health professionals on carrying out health assessments within the construction sector.
There is currently no health assessment guidance in place to gauge ‘fitness for work’ within construction. The aim of The Construction Worker Health Assessment Guidance, was therefore “to ensure consistency of approach, terminology and interpretation of results in relation to the fitness for task assessments,” SOM said.
It is intended it will guide OH fitness-for-task assessments within the industry, ensure results from assessments are interpreted so as to draw meaningful and consistent conclusions, and promote-evidenced based best practice in line with professional standards, SOM added.
The guidance covers issues such as terminology within the sector, the various responsibilities for assessment, relevant legislation, issues around data processing and determining risk, how to carry out appropriate health assessment, quality assurance and governance, among others.
The guidance has been developed by the society’s construction special interest group, which was itself only formed last summer, at the same time as Constructing Better Health, the scheme for the management of OH within the industry, closed because of the pressures of the pandemic.
Just last week, a study of the mental health of self-employed construction workers and those working in small firms carried out by Mates in Mind and the Institute for Employment Studies concluded many were turning to drink, non-prescription drugs use and even self-harming.
The sector also has a poor track record generally around fatalities, falls from height, injuries and musculoskeletal problems, with access to OH support often hampered by the fact workers may often be self-employed, working for small contractors, or both.