Occupational Health Risk Management
How do I know if I am creating a health risk for my workers?
The way you deal with health risks should be exactly the same as your approach to dealing with safety matters. The biggest health risks in construction, based on ill health statistics are; respiratory risks (asbestos, dusts, hazardous chemicals that can be inhaled), skin exposures (cement, chemicals, sunlight), noise, hand arm vibration and physical strain leading to musculoskeletal disorders. A good start is to consider whether any of these risks are present in your work. Observe your workers and how they do the work and apply the hierarchy of controls. In a nutshell, take the same approach to preventing ill health as you would to preventing accidents.
Surely my workers health is none of my business?
Where the work you want your employees to do creates risks to their health, you have a legal responsibility to do something about this – in the same way as you have for safety at work. When you have done all you can to reduce health risks, but there are still risks to your employees’ health, you may need to put in place a system of occupational health surveillance This provides a system to make sure the controls you have in place are working. The system needs to be managed as you manage safety risks. This means feedback from health surveillance (which can be anonymised) to help you review your risk assessment and controls, and make any changes that are needed.