B&CE’s Head of Occupational Health and Wellbeing, Margaret Grahamslaw, talks about the thinking behind a new occupational health solution, what it means for the construction industry and what happens next.
I joined B&CE in January, to help realise its vision for a new occupational health (OH) solution for the construction industry. Rooted in the industry, B&CE creates simple financial products and benefits for working people, and is looking to apply that experience to occupational health.
Although the construction industry has made great strides in safety over the past thirty years or so, its track record on health continues to be poor. Statistics around musculo-skeletal disorders, skin and respiratory conditions point to worrying levels of work-related illness and disease.
B&CE acquired Constructing Better Health (CBH) in April 2016, but it wasn’t fully meeting the industry’s needs. The CBH model is complex, and the system is not particularly user-friendly. We found that employers struggle to add their workforce details onto the system, and that occupational health providers aren’t uploading the required information. Adding to the confusion, we know that some contractors are duplicating unnecessary health assessments, some are taking a sporadic approach and others are doing nothing at all. We asked ourselves, is there a better way of managing occupational health in the industry that is simpler, more consistent and most importantly, helps improve the health of individual workers?
A simpler, risk-based solution
One of B&CE’s core values is ‘creating simplicity’, and this has formed the basis of our thinking. We carried out research with contractors last year, and found that there’s a fundamental lack of understanding in the industry of what occupational health is, and how it should be managed. Employers look to providers for guidance, but providers don’t understand what the construction industry needs and may not have full knowledge about the complex risks involved. Contractors also want a clear and easy way to demonstrate compliance, with guidance on what health assessments to carry out based on risks, rather than the current job role system. Our vision has at its heart a digital, portable record that workers can take from site to site and contractor to contractor. This will enable them to own their health records for the first time, and be able to show employers that their health is being managed and that they are fit for work.
Our CEO, Patrick Heath-Lay, presented our research findings and our vision to an industry summit of CEOs in January, and received overwhelming endorsement. So now the hard work really starts!
Guidance and expertise
We’ve been working with an Occupational Health Steering Group, which provides technical expertise and guidance, to develop a simplified, evidence-based Framework that will underpin our new scheme. The Framework will demystify the legislation, explaining what is required of employers in a simple way. It will set out when and how to conduct health assessments, which will identify health issues at an early stage. This will lead to greater consistency across the industry.
Consulting on the Framework
In June, we will be consulting with the industry to discuss the Framework and to build understanding about the model. Free breakfast events are taking place in Glasgow, Birmingham, and London. We hope you’ll join us and give us your views.
To find out more and book your place, see: