Government construction health and safety supremo Philip White has warned the industry that it has “taken its eye off the ball” over efforts to combat traditional health problems among the workforce.
White, the Health & Safety Executive’s chief inspector of construction, said he was concerned that the increasing trend of firms to switch focus to employee wellbeing meant that traditional problems such as hand arm vibration and exposure to dust were being ignored.
“I have a warning and a challenge to the industry,” he said. “There is a lot of occupational health going on, particularly on the wellbeing side. But we must not lose sight of traditional health problems in the industry.
“I think that in the last two years the industry has taken its eye off the ball in this area while it looks at these broader areas.”
White was speaking last week at the Costain prestige health and safety lecture at the ICE.
“My priorities for 2012 are challenging contractors on a senior level on what they are doing on health issues,” he added.
White added that a big issue for industry remained its fragmented structure, with a lot of sites run by smaller companies without any form of welfare structure such as washing facilities or even access to hot water.
“This is a big, big challenge,” he said.