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17 October 2017
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MY EMPLOYER CARES, BUT HOW IMPORTANT IS MY HEALTH TO ME?

Phil Russell
Phil Russell, Vinci Facilities

7 August 2017 | Phil Russell


Health is high on the agenda in the construction and FM industries. Employers have a duty of care, which means that they should take all reasonable steps to ensure our health and well-being. And men’s health is a real issue. 


The Men’s Health Forum clarifies the problem: one man in five dies before 65; men are more likely to die early of circulatory disease and there is a 37 per cent higher risk of dying from cancer; 67 per cent of men are overweight; four in five suicides are men; and men are more likely to smoke than women, drink at hazardous levels, and eat too much of the wrong things. 


In construction (data includes FM) the suicide rate is higher than any other industry, with a death every two days. Both sectors employ an ageing workforce; over half of employees are 45 or over and at least half of these are men. And this is the group that’s hardest to get to. 


From the launch of Mates in Mind, which aims to raise awareness of mental illness across 100,000 workers over the next year, through to an annual gathering of 300 business leaders as part of the Health in Construction Leadership Group, employers are engaging differently with their workforces, often using comedy to overcome scepticism and the ‘it’s not going to happen to me’ mentality. But how much responsibility are we taking? 


A Men’s Health Forum survey says men are reluctant to take time off, especially for mental health issues. A third wouldn’t take time off for blood in their urine, 40 per cent would ingore an unexpected lump, and 42 per cent would ignore chest pain. 


The most common cancer in men is prostate cancer – 25 per cent of all male cancer cases – that’s 40,000 new cases a year and the second biggest killer of men. 


I have prostate cancer – discovered by reading about England rugby player Andy Ripley, who died of it in 2010. After treatment my chances of survival after five years have been greatly enhanced because I acted quickly. 


Employers must continue to engage their workforce and we as employees must listen.


Phil Russell, Vinci Facilities