AIHA Rings the Alarm on Four Construction Health Hazards
In June, AIHA published a new guidance booklet intended to raise awareness about health hazards in the construction industry. “Focus Four for Health: An Initiative to Address Four Major Construction Health Hazards” was developed by AIHA’s Construction Committee to highlight the significant impact that health hazards have on construction workers and businesses and to provide practical steps that can be taken to control them.  Construction workers are exposed to significant health hazards, but awareness about occupational health hazards lags behind that for workplace safety. As a result, health hazards receive less attention on many construction work sites. As described in the new booklet’s introduction, this is partly because illnesses and disorders from many types of health hazards develop slowly, which makes them more difficult for employers and employees to recognize compared with injuries.  “Unfortunately, health hazards such as noise or air contaminants are common in construction,” said Matt Gillen, team leader for the Focus Four for Health project. “When health problems occur, they can cut careers short, cause pain and disability, and even cause premature death.”  The guidance booklet spotlights four common health hazards: manual material handling, noise, air contaminants, and high temperatures. It provides a health companion piece to accompany the construction industry’s long-running “Focus Four” program, which targets the top four causes of fatal construction injuries: falls, electrocutions, struck-by injuries, and injuries resulting from workers getting caught between objects. The new booklet employs similar and familiar safety strategies, such as pre-job planning and job safety analyses, to guide employers to successfully address the four health hazards.  “This new publication provides a one-stop, easy-to-use booklet to get employers started on the road to better on-the-job health,” Gillen said. “We want to stimulate new activities and partnerships among construction and safety and health professionals to better control health hazards. Ultimately, that will be good for the U.S. and Canadian construction workers and employers who build our homes, roads, bridges and buildings.”  The new guidance booklet is available as a PDF on AIHA’s website.

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