A new health initiative with the potential to save lives in the construction industry launched at Wainuiomata High School in February. 

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 alright’ 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.  

Guests at the event, including the Naylor Love construction team and TBIG, received a full demonstration of the Health15 programme, a chance to explore one of the Stroke Foundation’s mobile testing vans, and a free blood pressure check. 

Feedback on the scheme has been overwhelmingly positive, according to the Stroke Foundation. Following a successful pilot event in November, 77% of guests said they learnt something new from Health15, 83% planned to make lifestyle changes based on what they learnt, and 4% had to seek immediate follow-up medical advice because of the results of their screening. 

Stroke Foundation CEO Jo Lambert says: “Around 9,500 New Zealanders experience a stroke every year. Long-term sick leave taken by a single employee can cost a company up to $1,000 a year, with an estimated economic price tag of $1.79 billion per year nationwide.

“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, the better.  

“Health15 makes it easy for workers to have their blood pressure checked by coming directly to their work sites and paying for any fees they incur in immediate follow-up medical appointments.”  

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. It’s a core value we’ve maintained as project managers for more 30 years. With national coverage, TBIG is well placed to support this amazing initiative.

“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% of strokes are preventable, which is why Health15 is so important. We have a chance to save lives by reaching workers who wouldn’t usually have time to access this vital health screening.”