The Construction Workers Health Trust, (CWHT) continues to deliver on-site health screening to building workers on sites up and down the country.
This year the Trust experienced a much keener interest from Health & Safety practitioners who appear to have taken a more focused interest in the health side of H&S than in previous years.
This is not to suggest that health is entirely forgotten, but the safety side of the equation generally attracts the lion’s share of national attention. The last 12 months, however, has seen a much keener interest in general health and well-being, as well as mental health.
From this month onwards, workers who partake in screening will receive their medical reports by email if they prefer, rather than taking the traditional health booklet. Many workers now like to keep their correspondence online.
This year so far, almost 4,000 workers have received an on-site medical, and once again the Trust is on course to deliver 5000 screenings for the year in total.
As always, blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, lung function and diabetes remain the key tests which are carried out in confidence, and all results are given on the day.
The main purpose of health screening is to assess the general health of the individual and a number of worrying issues are prevalent in the construction industry.
Firstly, There Is The Trend Towards Obesity
The chart (Figure 1) shows that despite the active nature of the industry, more than 70% of workers are either overweight or obese. The main reasons for this situation are poor diet choices and alcohol consumption.
Among a random sample of just over 4000 workers tested, only 27% were considered to be at a healthy weight, and 56% had a measured waistline which fell within normal parameters.
The same group was made up of 31% smokers and 65% admitting to hazardous or harmful use of alcohol. (Figure 2.)
At 31%, construction workers are well above the national average figure for smokers, which is currently about 21%.
The combination of these lifestyle choices is reflected in the final chart, which shows the overall levels of blood pressure within the group.
Systolic pressure, which is the measure of blood pressure when the heart contracts and pushes blood around the body, is generally considered to be the more important indicator of heart health
Here our group showed only 41% in the normal range with the remaining 59% entering the danger zone. (Figure 3).
As always, financing the Trust’s activities remains a challenge but firms can not only opt to pay the €1.50 weekly contribution along with their pension payments, but those not operating the industry pension scheme can register directly with the Trust by simply visiting their website www.cwht.ie/ and clicking on the Employer Registration tab, or go directly by clicking on this link ‘Employer Registration’.
Many firms who are not direct contributors have opted to simply pay for health screening as required, but the Trust strongly recommends registration, as it spreads the cost evenly throughout the year and guarantees that screening will be delivered at a time and place to suit the employer.
All a firm needs do is complete a simple online registration form and give a rough estimate of the number of workers employed. No names or personal details are required.
They will then invoice the firm for the cost of screening, and a date can then be arranged. It doesn’t matter if more or less than the estimated number of people actually turn up for the tests. They simply correct this by adjusting the invoice for the following year, based on the actual number screened.
Health Trust membership costs €75 per worker per year and includes all test results given on the spot. Each session with the occupational health nurse is thoroughly reviewed by a qualified doctor. If necessary, a personal letter of referral is issued to the worker, based on his/her test results.
The main advantage of this kind of occupational health screening is the high participation rate, usually above 80%. In addition, three very important tests, namely lung function, cholesterol and diabetes, are generally not available from your local GP. Most family doctors will refer their patients to the nearest hospital for these tests, which can involve anything up to a full day off work.
The Trust, however, provides all tests within the confines of the building site, in a one-to-one private session which takes an average of 35-40 minutes. Disruption is kept to a minimum and no-one requires any time off.
This year successful screening assignments were completed at the Center Parcs development in Longford for John Sisk & Co, the N25 New Ross development for Bam Contractors and the ESB re-development for PJ Carey & Co.
Firms who wish to avail of health screening can cover their workers in two ways. For those firms that participate in the industry pension scheme (CWPS) contact the scheme and ask to be invoiced for ‘Standard with Additions’. This monthly composite payment includes the Health Trust along with your normal pension payment.
Firms not operating the pension scheme go to www.cwht.ie and click ‘Employer Registration.
The cost is a very modest €75 per worker per year. It is a worker contribution and can be managed by deducting €1.50 from wages each week.
In return, your employees will be entitled to a comprehensive bi-annual medical assessment carried out in the workplace at a time of your choosing.
To get the ball rolling, simply contact the Trust or visit their website and they’ll do the rest.