Construction sites are grubby places and there is no way workers can stay clean all day. They are bound to get muddy and dirty and get rained on quite a bit (we’re in England, of course there’ll be rain).
Therefore, the odd sniffle and cough on site is typically nothing to worry about. However, working on site could cause more of a threat than you ever thought. Weil’s disease is not common in the UK but it has become a risk on site.
It begins as simple flu like symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain and fatigue. But this can soon escalate to vomiting, fevers, chills and light sensitivity. Once again, these are still pretty common symptoms for a variety of different illnesses. However, if workers have been in contact with canal/river water, rats or landfill areas on site, then there is a chance that this could be a lot more serious.
Instead of just suffering from the flu, workers organs could be failing, they could be internally bleeding and mental health problems could be developing. Overall, there could be serious long term and life threatening health risks. The boss would probably still want you in though.
This could be prevented though. According to Darren Williamson, a product and procurement manager for Arco, construction workers need to take a more wary approach and improve their knowledge about the disease alongside the symptoms they need to look out for.
Weil’s disease is caused by Leptospira bacteria and spread by rodents. This can then infect workers and enter their bodies via their eyes or nose, or through cuts and grazes in their skin.
However, there are some key ways in which workers can protect themselves. For example, according to Williamson, workers should avoid touching their face and follow good personal hygiene practices on site (even the groundworkers). Employers should also provide workers with protective clothing and specialised hand wipes too. This is to allow workers to conveniently disinfect their hands and keep protected on site.
Williamson has recommended five key ways to stay safe on site:
Be educated! Workers and employers need to know the risks and causes so workers are able to protect themselves.
Use hand wipes! Workers can easily kill potentially infectious bacteria with specialised wipes and can help reduce their risk of contracting the disease.
Keep your hands away from your face! By avoiding contact with the face, eyes and mouth workers can reduce their risk of contracting the infection.
Plaster up cuts and grazes! By covering up any cuts or sores with waterproof dressing this will also help workers avoid the infection.
And finally, don’t be shy about it, talk to your doctor! If you begin to experience these symptoms after working in a possibly contaminated area then visit your doctor as early as possible as early diagnosis is vital in ensuring that this infection doesn’t develop into Weil’s disease.
So what do you think? Do you work in any of these possibly contaminated environments? Let us know in the comments below.