The recent CIF Health and Safety Summit opened up the conversation on the wellbeing of workers in the construction industry. The CIF’s Health and Safety Summit was launched last year to recognise that mental health is just as important as physical health and wellbeing in the sector. With the construction industry activity being strong there have been worries that the extra activity in the sector will increase the occupational risk to workers. The CIF Health and Safety Summit was the second annual event and it wanted to highlight the importance of investment in employee wellbeing.
The Summit brought expert speakers and health and safety practitioners to discuss how to manage the challenges in the sector so the industry can learn to create a happier, healthier and safer workplace. According to the CIF website the agenda of the day included:
- Review of 2019, plus strategies and priorities for the challenges ahead in 2020
- Safety and the leader dimension: YOUR actions matter more than you realise! Inspiring and motivating business leaders to drive positive change
- Innovation and performance improvement in health and safety
There was also a talk about building a wellbeing culture as over recent years, psychological research has shifted from an emphasis on disorder and dysfunction to a focus on a culture of wellbeing and positive mental health. Working at height was a big part of the event as working at height remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries.
There were also discussions on stress management for the construction industry, BIM for health and safety, how BIM can improve health and safety outcomes and how to prevent heavy lifting injuries. Another focus was on the health and safety of non-English speakers, the pros and cons to online safety training and dust management plans.
While traditionally, the focus has always been on the physical health of construction workers, it is good to see the CIF focus on mental health and wellbeing for such an event. Construction workers are vulnerable to physical injuries while working but one thing many may not realise is that a lot of construction workers can suffer with work related stress that impacts workers mental health and wellbeing. The CIF Health and Safety Summit wanted to shine a light on the ‘culture of care’ and to have strategies in place to manage issues that may arise for workers in construction. The word ‘community’ was used during the event to describe how to best manage workers feelings of isolation through community attitude.
The main takeaways from the event were that workers need to safe and well without jeopardising their physical or mental health and not forgetting, the simple but effective method of wellbeing- looking after one another.
CIF is the Irish construction industry’s representative body. All stakeholders recognise the CIF as the voice for construction because each sector and region are represented.