A recent article (27 July 2015) in an on-line construction resource for Australia highlights some current structural trends that are creating new risks for health and safety in the construction industry worldwide.
While safe work method statements and safety training have radically improved health and safety performance, there are a couple of risk factors which have received less attention – namely the aging working population and the sort of business structure you choose to operate under.
THE AGING WORKFORCE
Injury risks increase with age
A recent study in the US found that between 2011 and 2012, the number of fatalities in construction increased 8.7 per cent nationwide. By age group, the largest increase in fatalities was seen in the 55-to-64-year-old age group. When comparing younger workers (aged 18 to 44) with older workers (aged 45-plus), the difference was particularly striking: with a 15.2 per cent increase for older workers compared to a 1.9 per cent increase for their younger counterparts.
Different injuries come with age
- Sprains, strains and repetitive motion injuries are common, particularly amongst older workers. So what can be done?
- The lighter weight, better-designed hand tools help mitigate against these.
- Changes in construction site layouts – for example the storage of materials off-ground for easier lifting Additionally, level walkways and shorter distances to staging areas will decrease falls.
- The wider availability of modern [lifting equipment for hire] these days also helps reduce these types of injuries.
Measures taken now will help future generations
While these work site improvements improve safety for older workers, they also benefit younger members of the workforce. Today’s younger workers will reach old age in far better shape, and they will have the advantage of mentoring by their more experienced peers who stay on the job longer.
With good safety planning and better equipment, the likelihood of getting hurt on the job is considerably lower for all, regardless of age. More years will be spent working and the cost of doing business will be reduced.
SELF-EMPLOYMENT IS MORE DANGEROUS
The same study also found that construction fatalities differed by employment class and that the self employed appeared to expose themselves to greater injury risk.
Whilst the same health and safety laws apply to everyone, individuals who are self-employed may be tempted to ‘risk it’ or struggle to keep up with complexities of workplace safety plans.
The article points that today’s accessibility of both specialist construction equipment hire and cost effective health and safety training should make it easier for smaller business owners and the self employed to adopt equally good health and safety practice as the larger construction companies.
Contact Mr Plant Hire to make your workforce safer
Mr Plant Hire can help your workforce stay safe.