Thousands of construction workers downed their tools to discuss workplace health and safety as part of a UK-wide initiative to improve wellbeing throughout the sector. 

‘Stop. Make a Change’, supported by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), saw approximately 60,000 people at around 1,000 UK sites stop working between 10am and midday on Monday 18 April as part of the event. During this time, staff discussed workplace safety and challenges to the sector.

The initiative focuses on four workplace issues – mental health, fatigue, plant safety and respiratory illnesses. Employers and employees are encouraged to create a list of ‘commitments’ to make positive changes in these areas and discuss how they can be effectively implemented over the course of the year.

“…it’s positive to see some employers taking part in this initiative with a view to reviewing and improving their procedures. With hundreds of thousands of people suffering injuries at work every year, the spotlight needs to remain on health and safety.”

Sharon Fleming, senior accident at work solicitor

 

The initiative was created in November 2016, and around 50 organisations have since signed up to support it.

Between 2015 and 2016, there were an estimated 621,000 non-fatal injuries at work and 144 deaths, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In 2014, more than 2,500 people died as a result of the asbestos-related illness mesothelioma, a statistic expected to remain the same until 2020, and during 2015-16 about half a million workers said they were suffering from workplace stress or depression.

Since its foundation nearly 100 years ago, Thompsons has supported the trade union movement and successfully campaigned to improve working conditions. From winning the UK’s first industrial disease case in 1956, to successfully representing an asbestos disease client in the House of Lords for the first time in 1972, Thompsons has been pivotal in ensuring employees are protected in the workplace and will continue to do so.

Sharon Fleming, a senior accident at work solicitor at Thompsons, said: “The importance of workplace safety cannot be understated, so it’s positive to see some employers taking part in this initiative with a view to reviewing and improving their procedures. With hundreds of thousands of people suffering injuries at work every year, the spotlight needs to remain on health and safety. 

“One event is useful but there also needs to be a long-term strategy to ensure a drop in the number of those killed or seriously injured at work. Employers who took part in the event must ensure key learnings from the day are adhered to, and we encourage the many employers who haven’t yet become involved with the initiative to do so. Failures to follow good health and safety practice can have tragic repercussions for workers.”