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This report has been written for 'Smiths Builders Ltd' who wish to focus and improve on Occupational Health within their organisation.

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Introduction

This report has been written for 'Smiths Builders Ltd' who wish to focus and improve on Occupational Health within their organisation. Work related ill health; also known as occupational ill health describes any illness an employee suffers because of the hazards they have been exposed to at work1. The European Construction Institute (ECI) recognises that there is a fundamental need to examine the extent, causes and management of the problem of occupational ill health in the construction industry and to improve the health culture. Clients, designers, contractors, other experts and the workers themselves need to be involved. Historically, less effort has been directed towards health matters in the construction industry in favour of the more immediate, high profile (and perhaps more solvable) problem of safety. Nevertheless, ill health continues to disable and kill large numbers of construction workers. In fact, the delay in the effects becoming obvious is one of the main reasons why the subject should be taken seriously2, e.g. 36000 people in the UK suffer from 'Vibration White Finger' and over a million are at risk. - HSE 1998, UK and US construction workers have the third highest rate of skin disorders - Buckhart et al 1993. Clients and contractors have a statutory and common law duty to develop health risk management systems, which should be based on full and careful appraisal of the health risks to which all their employees (including subcontracted workers) ...read more.

Middle

The main risk would be to the operator, E.g. - all forms of mobile equipment, compactors, compressed air tools, crushing mills, demolition, mechanical trenching. 3. Significant Risk - relatively easy to avoid a problem but one might arise if care were not taken. E.g. - hoists, portable generators, cranes, foundation construction. The following is a useful checklist for each activity required on site: * Is the activity necessary, can it be avoided? * Is it the quietest way of achieving the desired result? * Can a quieter item of plan be found? * Can the item of plant be retrofitted to reduce noise? * Can anything else be done (screens, enclosures, absorbents)? * Can workers other than the operator be removed from the area?6 Employers should always ensure that ear protectors are provided where there is a risk of hearing loss and that they are worn at all times. Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (Vibration White Finger) This is vibration transmitted from work processes into workers hands and arms and affects many construction workers, e.g. chainsaws, drills and riveters. Vibrating tools with frequency of 2-1500 Hz are potentially damaging but the range 5-20 Hz is the most damaging. After exposure there is a latent period (when there are no signs or symptoms). ...read more.

Conclusion

Significant exposure can lead to skin cancer2. Fair skinned workers are at particular risk, but all exposed workers are at some risk. Some chemicals e.g. wood preservatives can increase sensitivity to the sun. The greatest risk occurs at times of the day and periods of the year when the sun is most intense e.g. 4 hours around midday in summer. Preventative and protection measures - protect all exposed skin surfaces with UV blocking creams, do not remove clothing whilst working outdoors, keep checking for any changes in moles/ skin discolouration. In conclusion, for the successful management of occupational health risks remember these two points: * Employers must take action to prevent occupational ill health. * Workers must be well informed about health risks. If these are implemented effectively, then there is the chance to reduce the unnecessary toll of occupational ill health in the construction industry. 1 Good Health is Good Business 2 The ECI Guide to managing health in construction 3 Revitalising Health and Safety in Construction 4 Health in Construction - Lorraine Shepherd, The Safety & Health Practitioner June 1999 6 A guide to reducing the exposure of construction workers to noise - CIRIA 7 Health Risks from Hand-Arm Vibration - Advice for Employees - HSE 8 Preventing Dermatitis at work = HSE 9 Health and Safety in Construction Northern Ireland 10 Asbestos and You - HSE Anthea Carlisle Safety Tech 1 - Construction Safety Assignment 1 ...read more.

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