Constructing Better Health Background

CBH started life back in 2000 / 2001 when the government announced the Securing Health Together strategy for reducing the incidences of work related health.

The construction industry responded by setting its own targets to reduce ill health, recognising that perhaps like many other industries, the health bit of health and safety was not being given the same attention as safety.

Understanding the reasons for this is relatively simple health is a difficult subject.

Ill health is not immediate, not like an accident. Ill health can take many years to manifest itself and often the worker has left the industry before they fall ill, therefore the connection is never made back to working in the industry. It's not like falling off a piece of scaffolding.

  • Health management is something we outsource to the white coat and stethoscope brigade they deal with health don't they?
  • Health is about raised blood pressure and GPs deal with that don't they?
  • We issue noise defenders that stops people going deaf doesn't it?
  • Health is about stopping smoking and eating 5 apples a day isn't it?
  • Asbestos has been banned for years so there is no longer a problem is there?

Health in construction has an even more difficult time, with the complexity of the supply chain structure. The mobility and transience of the industries workforce, the misconception that it will cost huge amounts of money and civil claims will rise off the scale, these all go towards the myth that health is to be place in the too difficult box.

So what did the construction industry do?

It took from 2001 to 2004 to raise the funds from the industry, government and allied trade unions to run a 2 year pilot scheme with the aim of raising awareness of OH issues and to explore the possibility of developing and implementing a national scheme for construction.

Costing £1million the pilot ran in Leicestershire from October 2004 to June 2006, during which time a mobile health unit travelled around sites delivering voluntary health checks to over 1700 workers and OH awareness sessions to over 2500.

Findings from the Pilot make interesting reading, and a full evaluation report is available:

At the end of the pilot in June 2006, the Board of Directors of CBH took a decision based on the findings to spend a further 12 months to develop a national scheme and to put together a business case for its implementation across the construction industry. The national scheme finally emerged as a not-for-profit organisation on August 1st 2007.

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