Useful Facts

The construction industry can be physically demanding, and carries a unique set of health risks. We’ve worked with our full time paramedic Mark Harwood to create a list of useful facts that can help our people and subcontractors to know about and combat the most common problems. Find out more about on the interactive diagram below.

Useful Facts

Click on the an area on the body to see more information.

01Hearing

What Are The Effects of Hearing Damage?

  1. Difficulty in hearing normal, everyday sounds such as a person talking
  2. Ringing in the ears
  3. Difficulty in identifying the direction noise is coming from
  4. Hearing is noticeably worse than it used to be

How Can Your Hearing Be Affected at Work?

  1. Constant work environment noise
  2. Sudden loud noises, such as explosions
  3. Elongated periods of loud noise
  4. Failure to wear protective gear such as earplugs or ear muffs

What Employers Should Do

  1. If employees have difficulty hearing each other from roughly 2m apart from each other, a Noise Assessment at Work (NAW) and the Health & Safety Executive’s guidance assessment should be carried out.
  2. Noise Reduction should be built in to all machinery
  3. Supply correct and compliant hearing protection
  4. Assess whether damping can be used to reduce machinery noise and equipment

What Employees Can Do

  1. Wear hearing protection at all times whilst working in a noisy environment
  2. If your hearing is already damaged, ask to be moved to a quieter environment, especially when loud machinery is being used

02Heart

What Effects Can Work Have On The Heart?

  1. Stress is a common factor in heart related issues, as external stresses such as pressure at work can induce increased blood pressure
  2. Stress over long periods of time can also cause high blood pressure (Hypertension)
  3. Poor health and diet can also lead to a heart attack

How Can Heart Issues Affect Your Work?

  1. Unmanaged stress which leads to high blood pressure can lead to stroke and heart attack
  2. A stroke or heart attack at work is not only a risk for yourself, but your collegues and people around you

What Employers Should Do

  1. Make the work environment an encouraged space to discuss issues related to the work environment
  2. Provide adequate training for employees to recognise symptoms of stress
  3. Make sure all First Aid Training certificates are up to date
  4. Regulate the responsibilities on your employees

What Employees Can Do

  1. Make sure you keep healthy at work and outside of work; stopping smoking, having a healthy diet, and managing alcohol intake are all ways to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack
  2. Tell your employer if you feel there is too much pressure to conduct work within unreasonable conditions and timeframes
  3. At the first sign of something going wrong, contact the nearest first aider on site.
  4. Make sure you are familiar with the signs of stroke and heart attacks

03Hands

What Are HAVS Symptoms?

  1. Pins and needles, and numbness, in fingers (especially after work)
  2. Issues with feeling in hands during cold weather
  3. When returning to a warm environment after being in cold weather, your hands may feel painful and go red
  4. The tips of your fingers may go white in cold weather

How Can Your Hands Be Affected At Work?

  1. Using High Vibration Equipment can cause permenant blood circulation issues
  2. Any part of your body can be effected, however hands are the most common

What Employers Should Do

  1. Purchase or modify equipment with vibration controls
  2. Arrange breaks during work for employees
  3. Provide training for employees for correct tool usage and recognising HAVS symptoms early
  4. Supply heating and gloves during cold periods and in cold environments

What Employees Should Do

  1. Wear protective clothing such as gloves, especially during colder periods
  2. Take breaks from repetitive tasks with high vibration tools
  3. Use low vibration tools with low vibration handles wherever possible

04Lungs

What is Occupational Respitory Disease, and What Are The Symptoms?

  1. Asbestosis & Mesothelioma
  2. Chronic Asthma
  3. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder)
  4. Emphysema
  5. Lung Cancer

Who Is At Risk?

  1. All Site workers are at risk, especially: Welders, Insulators, Labourers, Gritters, Painters and Demolition Personnel

What Are Occupational Respiratory Disease Symptoms?

  1. Coughing
  2. Wheezing
  3. Tight Chest
  4. Prolonged colds with runny or stuffy nose and sneezing
  5. Sore, tickly throat

What Should Employers Do?

  1. Supply compliant respiratory equipment
  2. Carry out compliant site checks and warn employees of any dangers
  3. Use Dust Control Measures, such as ventilation and wet dust suppression
  4. Provide regular health surveillance for workers

What Employees Should Do?

  1. If any symptoms arise which you are concerned about, do not ignore them. See your doctor immediately
  2. Stopping smoking can significantly reduce the risk of contracting lung disease
  3. Make sure you are trained for the environment you are working in
  4. Always use clean and compliant respiratory equipment

05Liver

How Can Your Liver Be Affected At Work?

  1. Blood borne pathogens such as Hepatitis C can cause problems with the liver
  2. External stresses, such as prolonged working hours, adverse weather conditions, or underlying mental disorders can increase the risk of alcohol abuse which can damage the liver

What Are The Symptoms of Hepatitis B and Alcohol Abuse?

  1. Hepatitis C symptoms are not noticeable, but when they are they usually appear with flu like symptoms. Hepatitis C is the most common type of Hepatitis in the UK, and it is spread by blood to blood contact. If untreated, Hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis and liver failure
  2. Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse severely affects the liver, often showing no signs until alcohol has already severely damaged the liver. The liver helps filter toxins in the blood, and regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Symptoms of Alcohol Related Liver Disease include:
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting blood or passing blood in your stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling sick

What Employers Can Do

  1. Proper Health and Safety training will reduce the likelihood of blood to blood contact, and this will significantly reduce the risk of blood borne pathogens including Hepatitis C
  1. Fostering an environment where employees can discuss issues related to mental health, reducing employee stress, and helping employees when advice is sought will help employees in the long run negate alcohol related illnesses

What Employees Should Do

  1. Undergo regular Health & Safety training courses
  2. Seek help from your doctor if you are suffering alcohol related issues

06Skin

What are the risks to your skin?

  • Damage to skin can cause serious problems. These can arise from:
  1. Cracks and cuts
  2. Sunburn
  3. Cement burns
  4. Dermatitis or psoriasis
  5. Skin cancer
  • If you are an employer you have a duty under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to prevent your employees from coming into contact with substances hazardous to health.

Dermatitis

  • Dermatitis is caused by exposure to irritants such as: concrete, oils, solvents, plaster, insulation, paint, machinery dust, infected water, infected waste.
  • Any parts of your body can be affected by dermatitis - hands, arms, face, chest, neck, legs.

Sunburn and skin cancer

  • too much sunlight is harmful to your skin - a tan is a sign that your skin has been damaged by ultraviolet rays (UV)
  • skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK - most are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation

What are the warning signs?

  • skin is dry, red, sore and sometimes itchy
  • this may start to spread to other parts of the body
  • skin may become brittle and crack
  • the crack gets deeper and starts to bleed - this means that the dust, chemicals and bacteria can get in and cause further infection

What should you do?

  1. protect your skin by wearing gloves and other protective clothing, eg. overalls
  2. replace any damaged personal protective equipment (PPE)
  3. keep yourself, your PPE and your workplace as clean as possible
  4. keep any cuts or abrasions on your skin covered with waterproof dressing
  5. use moisturising skin creams where available - they are cheap and make a difference
  • As an employer if it is not reasonably practicable to prevent worker exposure to these substances, the law states you must do what you can to control that exposure
  1. set up a system of skin checks for workers. In the first instance you will probably need an occupational health nurse or doctor to train somebody to carry out skin inspections and to advise them on how often they should carry them out
  2. anyone with apparent skin problems should be referred to their GP or the works occupational health nurse or doctor, if there is one

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