It was found that between 220 and 250 workers die each year as a result of an immediate injury, compared to the 15,000 – 18,000 who die from cancer. Despite this, the prevention of workplace cancer has a lower profile in the workplace than the prevention of injuries.
The Scheme responded with its own campaign, ‘Spotlight on… occupational cancers’ by identifying legislation addressing the issue, current awareness campaigns and examples of best practice achieved within the industry in the UK.
‘Spotlight on… occupational cancers’ has had a significant impact in raising awareness within the industry, with features in a number of construction publications including: Building, Building Scotland, Housebuilder & Developer, Master Builder Magazine, Safety and Health Practitioner Magazine and UK Construction Online.
A survey was released to the Scheme’s Monitors with the following results collected, based on routine site and company visits, in order to gain a better insight into the issue, the industry’s response and how it is being managed:
There has been a substantial increase in both large and small sites establishing safety measures to help reduce the risk of occupational cancers. The requirement to consider the issue at a much broader scope is finally being met with a real attempt to tackle the issue.
Our results show that the industry is watching and listening to necessary campaigns such as the Scheme’s recent ‘Spotlight on… occupational cancers’, and others attempting to expose the issue. Raising awareness to a much greater level is the primary aim, and there is evidence to indicate a shift in mentality and consideration towards the topic.
The response from the industry has been tremendous with a much wider spread of activities such as obligatory toolbox talks and inductions that either focus specifically on the issue or incorporate it amongst other safety matters which are now becoming routine.
Outside of this, the evidence of alternative safety measures such as stricter regulations and more effectively functioning protective wearing equipment, as well as the display and availability of promotional literature and support guidelines, has significantly improved.
Proper fitting and higher quality RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) has reduced the risk of dust, toxins and other breathable hazards. The greater use can also be attributed to a recent push on the dangers of dust and silica from the HSE. ‘Cover Up’ strategies have also seen significant growth with sun screen protection stations for operatives becoming more prevalent.
It is impressive to see so many smaller sites achieving awareness and progress by taking similar steps and actions to many of the larger sites. The scope of managing occupational cancers is broadening in the industry by reaching sites of all sizes, this is fundamental in recognising it is an issue that must be tackled.
Link to this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4bj8-VPH7w
Considerate Constructors Scheme (September 2015)
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