One in three construction workers experiences occupational health problems related to noise and vibration, according to a report from the UK.
Constructing Better Health (CBH) carried out a pilot study in the English Midlands from October 2004 to June 2006. They offered voluntary health checks which were taken up by more than 1,700 workers – a high take-up rate. One third of them were referred to their GPs with occupational and/ore general health issues.
- One third of workers had occupational health issues arising from exposure to noise and vibration causing hearing problems and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- One third of those checked suffered from general health issues such as high blood pressure and respiratory illness. Workers suffered from either type of problem or both.
The pilot was devised to examine how a national health scheme could be rolled out.
CBH chair Trevor Walker said: 'The pilot gained considerable momentum but there’s still a long way to go. We think we’ve got an industry of ‘macho men’, and we don’t realise that a physical industry is bound to have physical effects'.
The report concludes that the main barrier to bringing occupation health to construction workers is at the managerial level, and not through lack of interest from workers.
It says: ‘Individuals within the sector are interested in their own health and taking steps to protect it, despite what employers might think. Managers are the ones who do not want to scrutinise their work practices, and who are unwilling to accept the need for organisational-level change.’
The CBH hopes to launch a national occupational health scheme before the end of the year.
‘This is a crucial finding,’ said EMHF director Erick Savoye. ‘It demonstrates that men’s health is every bit as much about what happens at work as what happens in hsopitals and health settings. It also proves that these men are reachable if only business practices and management structures permit it.’