Saving lives in construction – new Health15 initiative to lower workers’ risk of stroke 

A new health initiative with the potential to save lives in the construction industry has just launched.

Health15 is a new one-of-a-kind programme that brings free blood pressure tests and expert health and wellbeing advice directly to construction workers, to lower the risk of stroke among this vulnerable group. 

Construction workers often work long hours, carrying out physically demanding mahi at a fast pace. This can make it hard to prioritise a healthy lifestyle or take the time to attend important health appointments.  It’s an industry where the “she’ll be right” attitude is common, and the foundations for future long-term health conditions are laid. 

That’s why the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand has partnered with Project Managers, The Building Intelligence Group (TBIG) to develop an exciting new initiative to help construction workers spot the early warning signs of stroke and ease an economic burden which costs the country $1.1 billion per year.  

At the launch event at Wainuiomata High School, Stroke Foundation of New Zealand, TBIG and pilot site main contractors Naylor Love talked of the benefits of the Health15 programme, and the Stroke Foundation’s mobile testing van was out in force.

Feedback on the scheme has been overwhelmingly positive. Following a successful pilot event in November 2022, 77 per cent of people said they learnt something new from Health15, 83 per cent planned to make lifestyle changes based on what they learnt, and four per cent were supported to seek immediate follow-up medical advice because of the results of their screening. 

Stroke Foundation CEO Jo Lambert said: “Around 9,500 New Zealanders experience a stroke every year. The impact on peoples’ lives is immeasurable. Stroke can rob you of your independence – and your ability to work – in an instant. That’s why prevention is so important. We know workers have busy lives, but the earlier they spot the signs of stroke and other health issues, the better. Breaking down the barriers to accessing health services in this busy and high-risk industry is what Health15 is all about. As a starting point Health15 makes it easy for workers to have their blood pressure checked by coming directly to their work sites, we then build on this to educate and support them to improve their overall health and wellbeing.”

TBIG Project Director Jamie Summers says, “We are delighted to partner with the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand to bring this exciting new health initiative to life for construction workers across New Zealand. Projects are about people, not buildings, something we’ve kept to the forefront in our 30+ years in the industry. Our reach as Project Managers with 11 offices across New Zealand, gives us the arms to wrap projects in broader outcomes such as industry wellbeing for the construction sector. As a stroke survivor with over 25-years’ experience in construction, I know the risks that come with carrying out physically demanding work in a high stress environment, and how important it is to look after your health and wellbeing. The good news is 75 per cent of strokes are preventable, which is why Health15 is so important. We have a chance to save lives by reaching out to workers who wouldn’t usually have time to access this vital health screening.” 

If you’re keen to get involved, to find out about testing on a project site, read more on the Health15 website and please contact Jamie Summers at TBIG.

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