The Government has recently announced a £1.5 million investment designed to support Occupational Health. With economic performance high on the agenda ahead of the likely General Election later in 2024, it is unsurprising that tackling in work sickness and supporting employee wellbeing is amongst the Conservatives’ stated priorities. Occupational health is and should be one of the focal points for any successful business.

A Little Less Occupation, A Little More Action Please

The critical importance of occupational health in the construction sector is due to a complicated web of factors. The nature of the work undertaken on construction sites and within manufacturing facilities carries a higher level of risk than other industry sectors. Furthermore, there is a greater propensity for lone working. And, with 25% of adults experiencing a mental health condition within their working life, in construction there are heartbreaking statistics regarding suicides and long-term illness.


The View from Government

The Government press release highlights an increase of more than 700,000 in work inactivity due to long term sickness since the COVID-19 pandemic. Their funding package targets 5 businesses who will develop new technologies to support other businesses in the provision of occupational health services. Furthermore, like many sectors are experiencing, the influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to dominate the investment products.

Quotes from Government Ministers

“Time off work due to sickness costs British business £100 billion every year. The innovative solutions developed through this funding will benefit businesses as we harness AI and technology to support a healthier and more productive workforce.”
Jo Churchill MP, Minister for Employment

“We want more people to be able to benefit from occupational health support, particularly people working in smaller businesses or those who are self-employed. That’s why we’re investing in these innovative approaches to occupational health.”
Helen Whately MP, Minister for Health & Social Care

Enhancing Occupational Health

Any investment into employee health and wellbeing is welcome and this package will no doubt benefit smaller business in particular. However, I’d disagree that occupational health has somehow only been worthy of priority focus post-pandemic. As early as 2006 (and beforehand) HSE had published materials highlighting the particular risk factors in construction. These risks are less prone to flux over time and, certainly in the case of Exyte Hargreaves, 150+ years of experience means we’re well attuned to our health & wellbeing priorities.

In the latest issue of our 1872 magazine, we included an article examining our own Occupational Health campaign for the current year. Importantly, it is a holistic and whole life approach to managing OH throughout an employee’s journey with Exyte Hargreaves. Beginning before the employee starts work, the process spans health checks, plant & equipment checks, implementation of robust RAMS and ongoing monitoring & surveillance.

Environment, Health & Safety Policy Policies

Our Resources page contains Exyte Hargreaves literature and documents. For example, other sector overview documents, our company brochure and copies of our Environment, Health & Safety Policies. Please download a digital copy or contact us to request a physical copy by post.

Employment Stage

We engage with an Occupational Health Surveillance provider to deliver:

  • Initial Health Checks
  • Employee Assistance Programme
  • Ongoing Occupational Health Surveillance

Work Stage

We deploy equipment to reduce Occupational Health Risks in the factory and on site:

  • Low noise & vibration plant and tools
  • Chemicals & substances as safe as possible
  • Extraction & suppression systems to remove airborne contaminants
  • Suitable & sufficient PPE

Plus, foundation principles for Safe Systems of Work and training & awareness of OH hazards.

Monitoring Stage

We monitor for HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration):

  • Manual calculations for HAVS risk
  • Digital monitoring systems (Reactec / HAVIwear)
  • Environmental monitoring & grab sampling
  • Ongoing health surveillance

Positive Mental Health

Wellbeing and Occupational Health

The employment journey for each individual is unique and needs to be regarded as such. Many things impact upon and shape our experiences as we pass through application, onboarding and a working routine. These factors are neither fixed nor standardised, because they change and shift. Therefore, it is an acute challenge for any employer to have appropriate support systems and processes in place to safeguard employee health and wellbeing.

Robert Walters suggests that 88% of professionals believe that mental wellbeing support is an important factor when choosing an employer. At Exyte Hargreaves we’ve recognised that and have designed a holistic approach to health and wellbeing which takes account of all the major touchpoints in that employee lifecycle. Certainly, our ambition is to deliver bespoke, sensitive and effective support for our teams whether in the office, the factory or working remotely on our projects.

Focusing on Occupational Health

We understand that the talent challenges facing our industry aren’t going away. Our People strategy in 2024 leads with an enhanced focus on Occupational Health to support and nurture the employees we have already. Moreover, dedicated market recruitment and early careers development will identify the new and future talent to further strengthen our business. 

“As part of our continuous improvement in worker health we plan a major push on improving occupational health in 2024. It is vital that as a business we’re able to send our people home safely and healthily. It’s all about creating a healthier environment for our employees.”
Neil Taylor – Head of ESH

It is an astonishing figure that only 45% of British workers have access to occupational health services. In conclusion, only through a structured, well funded and regularly reviewed OH strategy can businesses expect to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their employees (and in so doing properly support their future success).

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