Best Practice

LOCATION: Company-wide ARTICLE YEAR 2018
ACTIVITY: Occupational Health COMPANY: FM Conway
SUB ACTIVITY: Health and well-being COMPANY LOCATION: Conway House
Educating the workforce on silica and other work-related health issues


Following a review of the available training courses covering construction related occupational health risks, FM Conway was disappointed by the lack of industry specific courses and resources available. Therefore, it decided to develop its own in-house training course.

To start this process, the individuals responsible for the development of the course needed some special training. They attended the NEBOSH Occupational Health and Well-Being Training Courses. They used the knowledge gained to develop a bespoke training course for FM Conway’s employees.

The first phase of the training programme was to deliver the course to the managers and supervisors working across all of Conway’s sites. It is now being re-tailored for presentation to operatives.

The course covers a wide range of health issues. It uses a variety of techniques including interactive sessions, videos, in-house and externally produced resources to facilitate the course’s delivery. Topics covered include legislation, mental and psychological health, HAVs, silicosis, coronary disease, diet and many other health related topics.

At the beginning of the course, the delegates are asked to state their top hazards involving health and safety. Most of the candidates focussed on safety related hazards, very few mentioning health related construction hazards. Although not unexpected, as historically the managers and supervisors training has concentrated on these areas, these responses illustrated the need for the training programme on health issues.

Typical examples of how topics were covered are detailed below:

Silica and Silicosis: Use of the IOSH ‘No Time to Lose – Fake or Real’ question set. Explanation of the various types of silicosis. The benefit of X-Rays, health surveillance including lung function testing. The adoption of the correct control measures including local exhaust ventilation, use of dust masks and the importance of face fit testing, dust suppression and vacuuming techniques.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS): Provides information on exposure levels and control measures. It introduces the attendees  to FM Conway’s HAVS Calculator which is an adaptation of the HSE

HAVS Calculator. It incorporates spreadsheets that assist recording and automates the calculation of exposure points and levels. The course also includes instruction on safe working practices such as job rotation.

Mental Health: An explanation on the different types of mental health conditions including psychoses (such as Bi-Polar Disorder), personality disorders, schizophrenia and neuroses. The more common type of mental health problems, such as anxiety,

depression, panic attacks, phobias are also covered. This is followed up with videos and discussions on recognising such issues and what can be done to help manage and control them.

Phase one of the programme, delivering the training to managers and supervisors, is nearing completion. Phase two, the delivery of the training to operatives will commence shortly. The feedback and learning from Phase one will be used to modify and tailor the Phase two delivery.


  • Managers and supervisors better equipped to deal with health hazards
  • Managers and supervisors better able to understand the requirements of the health improvement plan
  • Managers and supervisors have a better appreciation of WHY health is important
  • Managers and supervisors understand the improvements that can be made
  • Circa 150 managers and supervisors trained
  • Developing a more balanced health and safety culture in FM Conway
  • Helping to change attitudes, understanding and the behaviour of employees.
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