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Why is the health of the construction industry important?

The Australian National Health Survey 2017-2018 highlights that construction industry workers, when compared to other industries, have higher rates of smoking and alcohol consumption (see graph below). They also have higher rates of overweight/obesity than the national average.

2017-18 National Healthy Survey
2017-18 National Healthy Survey: Prevalence of modifiable risk factor results for industry

There is clear evidence the general physical and psychological health of a workforce has a direct impact on work health, safety and wellbeing, which contributes to reduced productivity, higher injury claims and absenteeism.

Smoking is still the leading cause of illness and disease in Queensland and workers who smoke have a 38 per cent higher risk of injury than those who have never smoked. Poor nutrition is the second leading cause of illness and disease. It contributes to overweight and obesity which is the third leading cause.

Obesity puts workers at increased risk of injury and they can take longer to rehabilitate than their healthy weight counterparts. Obesity is also a risk factor for sleep apnoea and musculoskeletal disorders, both health and safety issues.

Research shows using an integrated approach to address these risk factors will enhance worker health and prevent injuries and illness. People who are regularly exposed to hazardous working conditions, physically demanding tasks, high levels of stress and long working hours are more likely to smoke, consume too much alcohol, have low levels of physical activity and poor nutrition.

Embedding health and wellbeing into business systems such as safety, human resources or quality assurance, makes good business sense.

Download our Work health and wellbeing toolkit and resources to plan, deliver and evaluate work health and wellbeing programs.

Further information

Contact our Healthy Workers team at