Apprentice health checking could save Scottish economy £30m

Michelle Aldous is calling for baseline health checks. Picture: TSPL
Michelle Aldous is calling for baseline health checks. Picture: TSPL
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Tackling work-related ill- health among construction apprentices could save the Scottish economy more than £30 million over the next decade, research today suggests.

Constructing Better Health Scotland (CBH Scotland) is calling for baseline health checks for all apprentices entering the industry as part of a campaign to improve occupational health management in the sector. It said only 27 per cent of Scottish Building Federation members who employ apprentices give them a baseline health check when they join the company, according to a recent survey.

CBH Scotland said this means many new recruits at risk or those suffering from long-term health problems will go undetected and will not receive the occupational health support they need.

The body, a newly established industry-wide occupational health management scheme, estimates the current cost of occupational ill-health in the Scottish construction industry is £66m per year, or £386 for every worker employed in the industry.

CBH chief executive Michelle Aldous said: “CBH Scotland has been established to work with employers to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of those working in the Scottish construction industry.

“Our research shows that proactively managing the occupational health of new building apprentices through systematic baseline health checks could save the Scottish economy more than £30m by 2024.

The campaign is being organised with the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives and employers’ trade association the Scottish Building Federation.

New figures show the number of construction apprentices registered in Scotland last year rose by 11 per cent compared to 2012.