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HSE to pilot health screening of workers

Plans under way to check out workers' fitness levels in bid to cut health risks on site

THE HEALTH of construction workers will be tested during a Health and Safety Executive pilot project to be launched this summer.

HSE bosses confirmed this week that plans are under way to offer health advice and carry out a series of health checks on workers in a pilot region.

The project will last about two years and focus on identifying health problems through a screening programme and reducing health risks caused by working on site.

Members of The Construction Industry Advisory Committee will appoint an occupational health scheme provider next month to run the pilot following a feasibility study carried out by the HSE last year.

Construction News understands the scheme is likely to cost around £1.7 million to start up and administer, with estimates for operating a national scheme believed to be around £8 million annually.

The move forms part of the HSE's policy of reducing the soaring level of occupational health problems, like asbestosis and musculoskeletal damage, by introducing a national occupational health scheme.

Mike Cosman, head of the construction sector at HSE, said: 'The pilot scheme will identify the fitness of workers to actually do the job. It will also look at the management of occupational health risks such as exposing painters to solvents and demolition workers to lead and asbestos.

'The obvious benefits will be to workers' health but there are wider benefits for employers in terms of retaining and recruiting staff.

'The scheme will also have an effect on improving site safety and help address the insurance issue by reducing claims and lowering premiums.'

But the Construction Confederation, which represents around 5,000 firms, said it had major reservations about the scheme's effectiveness.

A spokesman said: 'We are not sure the proposals as they stand will achieve what is needed. We would like to see a response to the concerns put forward and continue our ongoing discussions.'