New guidelines have been published in a bid to boost awareness of occupational health risks in the construction industry.

Put together by CITB, the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (ConIAC) and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the guide aims to help the sector manage health risks more effectively.

It sets out exactly which hazards are associated with work in the building industry and details how the occupational health service can reduce risks in the workplace.

The guide - called Occupational Health Risk Management In Construction - says that occupational ill health refers to all problems caused or made worse by work, from serious diseases to mental wellbeing.

In the construction sector, the authors say that some of the main risks include exposure to asbestos and other dangerous substances, frequent loud noise and excessive use of vibrating tools.

It reminds construction bosses that it is a legal requirement to identify the specific hazards faced in the workplace and then put in place systems to manage them.

Ian Strudley, chair of the ConIAC, says it is important for the construction sector to be aware of both health risks and safety hazards.

“The misunderstanding of occupational health within the construction sector means that whilst the industry focuses on managing the more familiar safety issues, serious health risks get ignored. We cannot let this continue.

“When figures show that construction workers are at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work as they are from a fatal accident, the industry must take action.”

Kevin Fear, CITB Health and Safety Strategy Lead, said: “It is fantastic to see occupational health in the construction industry being highlighted in this new guidance. CITB fully supports this initiative and we were pleased to be part of the team that helped draft the guide documents.

“Improving occupational health should be a priority for industry. This will require health risks to be identified and managed before work is carried out. Occupational health can be perceived as confusing and this guidance will help small construction firms prioritise key activities for improvement.”

The new guidelines come after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out a series of inspections recently in which more than 200 health-related enforcement notices were issued.

As a result of the inspections, the HSE found that many employers do not have a full understanding of health risks in the construction sector, seeing them as harder to manage than safety risks.