There is no doubt that the industry has come a long way since 2001 when the then deputy prime minister John Prescott called a summit to tackle the sector’s shocking safety statistics.
The previous year, 105 of our workers lost their lives while doing their job, a toll of more than two each week.
Following the summit, representatives from across the industry worked together to develop a plan to tackle this safety crisis, with a steady reduction in incidents since then. By 2015/16 this number had more than halved, to 43.
Yet anyone who thinks this is cause for celebration needs to wake up.
Any number above zero is too high, and fails to take into account the many more who suffer often life-changing injuries.
Also lost in this number are those whose work causes premature death, albeit sometimes many years later, through occupational illness caused by the materials that they come in contact with.
More must be done
And as a sector we are only beginning to give the proper attention needed to the impact of mental health issues for our workforce. The stress that you suffer in the workplace can end your life just as easily as a fall from height or a collapsing structure.
So the motivation for the industry to work together to make workplaces safer and healthier is as strong now as it was all those years ago.
“As a sector we are only beginning to give the proper attention needed to the impact of mental health issues for our workforce”
For this reason, we support Stop. Make a Change.
None of these challenges are unique to any one business in the sector. And nor will any one organisation have all the answers. Yet by working together with a focus on the biggest challenges, we have a chance to make a difference, a chance to make a change.
Four key focuses
Every organisation involved will make commitments in four key areas – mental health, plant safety, fatigue and respiratory health.
In doing so we can test different approaches and see what genuinely delivers results. And when we do see better outcomes we can share these benefits across the sector, with our customers, with our competitors and with our supply chain.
We hope that next year, we will look not only at our planned commitments for 2018, but also at what we have all learned from our experience this year, and the impact that it has had, not just in our business, but on the industry as a whole to make it a safer, healthier place for everyone to work in.
Steve Fox is chief executive of Bam Nuttall
For more on the Stop. Make a Change initiative, visit www.stopmakeachange.co.uk.