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'Beefy builders' stereotype undermines government's site health campaign

It was mind-boggling and really disappointing to see a sensible initiative that had been described to Construction News originally as a “responsibility deal” to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone working in construction, turned into a cheap, attention-grabbing headline that largely missed the point.

What had started life as a “pledge to take action to manage the causes of occupational disease and improve the health and wellbeing of people working across offices and sites large and small”, had become the ridiculous “Britain’s beefy builders say bye-bye to baring bottoms” at the top of a Department of Health press release.

I doubt signatories Arup, Costain, Crossrail, Lend Lease or Wates welcome the description.

More importantly, this screaming headline undermines both the scheme itself, which is welcome, and the whole industry’s attempts to improve its image and attract the next generation to jobs across the construction spectrum.

Manual jobs should not be denigrated, nor should the industry be represented as one beefy, bottom-baring group of builders.

Where are the industry’s women? Its awe-inspiring technology? Where are the bright-eyed apprentices or the inspiring project leaders?

The DoH should listen up: these stereotypes aren’t good for construction’s health, either.

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