03 Oct, 2022 By Rob Hakimian
October marks the return of the “Stop. Make a Change” campaign organised by Civil Engineering Contractors Association (Ceca) to raise awareness of health, safety and wellbeing issues in construction and engineering.
In the five years since its launch, the event has grown from a single day to two weeks with the 2022 edition starting on World Mental Health Day on 10 October. Along with the longer programme, each year the number of participating organisations has grown, resulting in a wider reach.
Ceca civil engineering director Peter Crosland is also responsible for leading on the organisation’s health and safety agenda.
He says the campaign was launched because “it was an opportunity to look at health, safety and wellbeing from an industry-wide perspective”.
He acknowledges that there were already many firms with their own internal approaches to these topics, but Ceca saw it as an “opportunity to reach out and work with as many organisations as possible, who weren’t necessarily working in infrastructure”.
When asked what are the biggest health, safety and wellbeing issues affecting construction, Crosland says this is a big question that must be broken down into its component parts.
“Stop. Make a change” aims to improve health, safety and wellbeing awareness
On health, he points to musculoskeletal issues, which account for 55% of all ill health issues in the industry. Noise-induced hearing loss is also “ramping up the agenda”, according to Crosland.
Diabetes is also becoming a health focus. “We need to look at diabetes and its effect on people’s work,” Crosland says. “Particularly during safety critical activities such as machine or tower crane operations.”
In terms of safety, he says that statistics indicate that slips, trips and falls are the biggest issue.
On the wellbeing front, he reports that mental health is a growing concern, especially in light of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. Drug and alcohol misuse is another focal point, which Crosland says is “possibly linked to poor mental health but this is a very complex area”.
To ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of workers is protected at project level, Crosland believes that organisations must put people first by coming together early in a project and creating a dedicated strategy.
“I call this Extra Early Contractor Involvement (EECI),” he says. “Although, it shouldn’t just be the contractors; this should include the whole delivery team and include those who are going to maintain the facility on completion.”
He adds that “it can only happen if the client wants to make it happen – and they need to support this financially”.
He asserts that using the EECI approach does not necessarily mean that projects must cost more.
“If the life cycle cost is taken into account, the actual cost of doing the right thing in the first place becomes more acceptable.”
The “Stop. Make A Change” campaign ensures that health, safety and wellbeing issues are also top of mind for individuals so that they can better look after themselves and their colleagues. It has developed in form over the years, but the intention is to get workforces talking among themselves about safety issues they regularly face.
The campaign’s list of topics is growing yearly, based on feedback from participating organisations.
“Heathrow, Tideway, the Environment Agency, some really big players, have provided input to us, saying ‘these are the things keeping us awake at night’,” Crosland says.
“So, we took that and built up ‘Stop. Make A Change’ based on that risk profiling.”
The main topic areas covered this year include Covid-19; access/egress; electrical installations; hand injuries; lifting operations; office safety; risk zones; slips, trips and falls; and working at height. Utility strikes will come under a new spotlight this year (see box).
For each of these areas, Ceca provides a series of conversation starter kits – printable cards with open-ended questions. These are free to download from the “Stop. Make A Change” website. “That’s one of my mantras: anything around health, safety and wellbeing has got to be for free,” Crosland says.
Ceca is not prescriptive about when or how its materials are used. “Each organisation does it slightly differently,” he says.
“‘Stop. Make A Change’ is becoming known as an industry-wide initiative that helps deliver real change,” Crosland says. “Our aim is not necessarily to be the biggest, but it is meant to provide the means to help those organisations who need it.” In recent years, clients and academics have also become involved.
Looking ahead, he says: “It would be good to see the campaign as a standard for all organisations to adopt.”
Crosland underlines the value that this would bring. “It isn’t just for helping people to have a healthier life,” he says. “It’s also to be more productive, so that we as an industry can deliver more for our money.”
A new focus area for this year’s edition of the “Stop. Make A Change” campaign is safe digging
to avoid utility strikes.
While there are currently no definitive figures for the number of utility strikes each year, the Geospatial Commission suggests that £2bn is spent annually on repairs following such incidents.
It is 10 years since Ceca last undertook research that put the annual figure at 60,000 incidents and Crosland believes the number has grown further since 2012.
“Stop. Make A Change” will approach the issue by:
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Brighton and Hove City Council
Brighton and Hove City Council