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How Age And Employment Status Is Impacting On Health And Safety

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.

While older workers bring with them expertise, dedication and mentoring to their places of work, they also bring physical and mental issues. Today’s workforce across all sectors is getting older, and, so – claims the article – the construction industry must find ways to keep these workers on the job.

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.

While the increase in the number of fatalities among wage-and-salary workers in construction was 4.4 per cent between 2011 and 2012, the increase was 27.8 per cent among the self-employed. The annual change in the number of fatalities was 41.9 per cent among self-employed specialty trade contractors.

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.

Mr Plant Hire offers health and safety IPAF training and PASMA options for London – both at its headquarters and on-site; as well as a full range of construction equipment hire in London and – via its network –  to the construction, maintenance, mechanical & electrical industries across the UK.

Contact Mr Plant Hire now for quick competitive pricing on construction equipment hire, or further information on our training courses .

Click here to read the full article by health and safety expert, Emma Bentton

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