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Industry downs tools as 60,000 promote health, safety and wellbeing

Sites across the country have joined in an industry stand-down day to highlight the health, safety and wellbeing challenges across the sector.

An estimated 60,000 people across 1,000 sites, offices and production facilities are expected to take part in Stop.Make a Change, an initiative to promote better health, safety and wellbeing in construction.

The initiative is supported by the CITB’s Structured Fund as part of Infrastructure 21, a project led by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association to help ensure civils suppliers are prepared for forecast growth in the sector.

Companies taking part include clients such as Network Rail, Highways England, Gatwick and Heathrow, while the UK’s biggest contractors including Balfour Beatty and Carillion are also among those on board.

More than 30 companies will make specific commitments around mental health, fatigue, plant safety and respiratory health that will be briefed out during today’s events.

Writing for Construction News today, Bam Nuttall chief executive Steve Fox said: “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. 

“And as a sector we are only beginning to give the proper attention needed to the impact of mental health issues for our workforce.”

CITB chief executive Sarah Beale said: “It’s great to see so many employers getting behind this important campaign.

“While we know that there has been sustained improvements in health and safety in recent years, there is much more to be done.

“Stop. Make a Change signals a new, heightened awareness of health and wellbeing issues among construction firms and their employees across the UK, which the CITB is pleased to support.”

CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “When we first started planning Stop. Make a Change we hoped that we might get up to 10 companies and a few thousand employers involved in this first year.

“The response from industry has been tremendous, with a real desire to use the event as an opportunity to deliver positive change across the sector.

“We are looking forward to events today, and the health, safety and wellbeing improvements that they will drive”.

The organisations involved will provide feedback on the impact that the commitments that they have made have had upon their business, with best practice to be shared between the companies later this year.

Mind Matters

Construction News is focusing on mental health through the Mind Matters campaign this year, as one of five editorial priorities.

Next week, CN publishes the results and analysis of the industry-wide survey it carried out on mental health earlier this year.

We will also take an in-depth look at suicide in the industry, after ONS statistics showed that more workers took their own lives in construction than in any other profession in the five years to the end of 2015.

In November, the CN Summit will feature occupational and mental health panel discussions and presentations. Click here for further details.

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