A Slave to the Working World

by Zoe Conway September. 09, 2016 1483 views
Workin' 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin'

Recommended music choice has to be 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton 

Being asked to work the bank holiday Monday a week or two back give me the perfect opportunity to take some photos at work. For the past 13 weeks I have been busy working away in Guardbridge near St Andrews. The project I was involved in was worth £25 million! This included 13.5km of pipework running nearly 4 miles from the energy centre to all of the university plant rooms. Whilst this project is massive, and exciting especially in terms of district heating, it got me thinking.

How do you control and manage the health and safety on a site that could easily have 50 people on site at one time? How do you keep an eye on everything that is happening? The answer is you can't, unless you have eyes on the back of your head and you are constantly watching over people. 

The thing that shocks me the most about the construction industry is how it is run and the stats that back this up. A normal working week for someone would be 37.5hrs on a full contract. In construction you can be contracted to 47.5hr but rarely do you work that amount more often than not you work more. A normal working day starts at 7am and can easily finish well after 7pm. Lets say for example you live 30 minutes away and it takes you 40 minutes to get ready in the morning this means starting your day at 550am and if you finish at 7pm you don't get home till 730pm, this then gives you just over 10 hours to cook and have dinner to have a life and get a decent amount of sleep in as well. I have seen myself coming home from work having dinner and going straight to bed, and being asleep by 9pm. 

It becomes exhausting. 

But what happens to you when your working these long hours? What is the impact on health and safety?

Being a bit of a geek I decided to look up some health and safety in construction stats and this is what I found...

  • The worker fatal injury rate in the ‘Construction sector (1.62 per 100,000 workers) is over 3.5 times the average rate across all industries

  • In 2014/15 an estimated 1.7 million working days (full-day equivalent) were lost in the Construction sector due to workplace injury (0.5 million) and work-related illness (1.2 million).

This shocks me! If you work in construction you are nearly 4 times more likely to die from an injury than in any other profession. On one hand this comes as no surprise because of the hazards a construction site presents. The question that this raises is, how many of these accidents and fatalities could be prevented by a different working structure? Is there a way in which working hours, commutes and routines can be altered so that avoidable injuries could be reduced?

This summer I have learnt a lot, including that being female on a construction site can play in your favour. I have also learnt that although at times people are annoying they are the thing I love most about construction. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some amazing people this summer and for that I am grateful. 

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