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808 Occupational health (oh) in south african construction
  1. John Smallwood,
  2. Claire Deacon
  1. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


Introduction Health hazards in construction include: ergonomic stresses such as bending, lifting and repetitive movement and vibration; environmental stresses such as heat, sun, noise, poor illumination, and wet or damp work; skin and respiratory exposure to chemicals and dust, as well as mental stress among managers, supervisors, and workers. In South Africa, these may add to the health problems experienced by construction workers because of poor community health, substance abuse, and inadequate health services.

Methods A self-administered questionnaire survey was conducted among members of a professional construction health and safety management association to determine, inter alia, the extent of OH problems, OH perceptions, practices, and interventions, and necessary OH interventions.

Results Findings include: ergonomic problems followed by exposure to the sun predominated among OH problems; OH interventions conducted most frequently include blood testing, HIV and AIDS, and TB education; welfare facilities need to be improved; more personal protective equipment (PPE) needs to be provided; the physical nature of construction needs to be reduced; more information regarding hazardous materials and activities, and disease is required, and more worker training and participation is required.

Discussion The findings resonate with the literature in that OH is not afforded the status afforded to safety; the degree of OH knowledge and awareness is limited as opposed to extensive; the source of OH knowledge is informal; there is a need for OH to be embedded in tertiary built environment programmes, OH continuing professional development (CPD), and a construction industry OH standard, and OH practice notes.

  • Construction
  • Occupational Health

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