Health & Safety with More Emphasis on Health

July 15, 2015 - Mike Dilke

A couple of weeks ago I exhibited at the Health & Safety conference at the Institution of Civil Engineers and came away feeling that I had been in the company of people that really make things happen. I often get inspired when I visit the ICE and this was no exception.


It wasn't all good though as I was also shocked and horrified. I learnt that there around 15 fatalities in the UK from health issues in the construction industry PER WEEK. I couldn't quite believe it when I heard - do correct me if this statistic is incorrect.

I have just looked at the HSE website and the construction figures for the last year are below.

  • there were an estimated 76 000 total cases of work-related ill health, of which 31 000 were new cases (LFS);
  • an estimated 2.3 million working days were lost in 2013/14, 1.7 million due to ill health and 592 000 due to workplace injury, making a total of 1.1 days lost per worker (LFS);
  • injuries and new cases of ill health resulting largely from current working conditions in workers in construction cost society over £1.1 billion a year.


These figures are very scary but the positive thing to come from this is that the effort and expertise that is going into, making construction safer now looking is now also looking at health related concerns. These are serious issues that will harm and kill - just not immediately, and cover things such as lung disease from working in dusty environments.

It seems that there is a will from clients, designers and contractors to get to grips with this issue and do something about these figures. For example Clive Johnson of Land Securities stated in his presentation that 'there is an opportunity as a client to set the tone.' From chatting with Clive it seems that Land Securities are also being active in approaching health issues with their own office based staff. Musculoskeletal problems are common in construction and quite a few of these are from something as simple and normal as sitting at a desk.

If a client is serious about something then I think it has a good chance of happening. However the conference showed that contractors and much of the supply chain is keen to get this right. We need to keep an eye on the statistics to see that things are moving in the right direction.


See below for a video from the day.