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Improving occupational health in construction

A new approach for the construction industry

Since acquiring Constructing Better Health (CBH) in April 2016, we've been taking steps to develop a better occupational health solution for the construction industry. This comes at a time when occupational health in the industry continues to rise up the agenda.

Managing occupational health in construction 

We wanted to get to grips with the problem of occupational health, and how it can be consistently managed to improve the workplace health of construction workers.

We've found one core problem causing a ripple effect. Why not read more in our research findings report.

Research findings .pdf

Developing a better occupational health solution

On 26 January 2017, we spoke at the Health in Construction Leadership Group’s event 'Acting on our commitment to a healthier future'. We shared our occupational health research findings and presented what we believe the industry needs from an occupational health solution. 

We'll now work with the industry further to develop this solution — to ultimately improve the health of construction workers. Making occupational health management easier to administer and more cost effective for employers.

Building for the future

Take a look at our Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Heath-Lay's presentation

Building for the future .pdf

Helping Constructing Better Health (CBH) members with more efficient operational systems 

We've also been busy updating our current CBH's operational systems for our members — to make them easier to use and give the best service we can. 

Visit CBH website »

What and why?

Construction is an industry that has many health risks, both short and long term.  Understandably, short term risk (immediate safety issues) have been the main focus to date – but we think that there needs to be a focus on long-term health risks too (such as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, noise-induced hearing loss and respiratory problems). Our research tells us that there’s widespread misunderstanding (and misinterpretation) of OH across the industry. 84% of contractors think that more needs to be done to improve the implementation of OH in the sector.

Our Board, rooted in the construction industry, recognises that more needs to be done to improve occupational health in the construction industry. B&CE acquired CBH in April 2016, and set out to find out what the industry wants and needs from a new OH solution. Our research told us that the principles that CBH was founded on still apply, but they weren’t implemented in a way that fully met the industry’s needs.

Our research showed that 84% of contractors agree that more needs to be done to improve how occupational health is implemented in the construction sector. We know they want greater clarity, consistency and efficiency, and we will be working hard to deliver a solution that meets those needs, as well as working to raise awareness on this important issue. We’re looking to create a new solution that can really improve the health of the industry, whilst adding new features.

What’s the difference?

There will be several key differences to this new solution. Firstly, it will be fully integrated, so that it can work with employers’ existing systems. The solution will be based on risk, rather than role, as we recognise that risks in the construction industry can change on a daily, if not hourly, basis. And finally, the system will include a portable digital record, owned by the worker, which they can take from site to site and contractor to contractor – this will enable them to own and manage their health records for the first time.

We’ve listened to the frustrations you’ve had with the system and that’s why we’ve put in place some improvements to help with the current administration. This includes improvements to the CHAT (contractor management tool) system’s file upload capabilities and usability (launched in November 2016). We’re currently developing an improved report dashboard, intended to be live by March 2017.

I am a current CBH member — what should I do?

If you are waiting to renew, please do so. We want employers to come with us on this journey, giving us feedback and potentially participating in any pilot exercises. The current CBH system enables employers to administer their workforce occupational health.

No, our aim is to create a system that is more efficient and that reduces the administrative burden on employers. System functionality should remove some existing administrative tasks, while enhanced system integration will reduce the administrative burden of managing the occupational health of your workforce.

Yes, it is important to continue using the current scheme to manage the occupational health of your workforce. This ensures continued visibility for employers on their workforce fitness for work results.

Uploading employee data to CHAT enables an employer to:

  • manage health assessments
  • see any workforce risks that are highlighted
  • see fitness for task results.
We’re working to understand how we can transition members, and the existing scheme, across to the new solution. We’ve identified that the continuation of historical data would aid the benefits of the future system, and we are working on a data migration strategy. We’ll keep the industry informed of our progress and of key timescales. In the meantime, the current CBH system will continue to operate

The new solution

There are a number of benefits to the system, including:

  • a reduced administrative burden on employers
  • a portable digital record that the individual employee can take from employer to employer
  • removing duplicate medical assessments, as each individual will have their own portable record
  • better health management will help individual workers remain productive and stay in work.

An integrated, digital solution will enable a smooth transition of data, helping with collaboration and knowledge-sharing and support the mobile record for workers.

We’ll continue to engage with the industry, as well as consulting with them on specific aspects of the new solution.  In addition, we’ll be issuing regular newsletters and update our website with the latest developments. Sign up for our newsletter or to give us your feedback.