DUST in Construction is the next Focal Point for HSE Inspectors from 4th October

As a part of HSE’s longer term strategy to improve health within the construction industry, from Monday 4th October HSE inspectors across the UK will be visiting construction firms/sites to check the way respiratory health is being managed in what is expecting to be a month-long initiative.

The inspectors will be focussing on any respiratory risks and will be checking that control measures, in place to protect workers’ lungs from construction dust including silica, asbestos and wood dust, are suitable and sufficient.

Inspectors will be looking for evidence to demonstrate that employers AND workers are aware of the risks pertaining to them, that the work is planned with this knowledge in mind and that the right controls are in place and being utilised. Enforcement action will be taken if people need protecting. The main aim is to influence employer behaviour by increasing their knowledge and capability to protect their workers.

However, be aware that whilst the inspectorate will be focussing on health during this programme of inspections, if an inspector identifies any other areas of concern, including immediate safety risks, they will take the necessary action to deal with them.

HSE have stated that “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents. Our inspection initiatives ensure that inspectors are able to speak to duty holders and visit sites to look at the kind of action businesses in the construction industry are taking right now to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs. These are mature health challenges that the industry ought to be managing effectively.”

To make sure your workers’ health and safety is being looked after in this regard:

  • Be aware of the risks associated with activities your workers carry out every day;
  • Recognise the dangers of any dusts created by work processes, consider how they can affect you and your workers health and how you need to manage that risk;
  • Look at your work activities and think about how you can prevent the creation of the dust in the first place.

HSE is being supported in this endeavour by the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG), whose mission since 2014 has been to unite the construction industry in order to eradicate the ill health and disease caused by exposures to health hazards on building sites, and Tier 1 industry contractors.

HCLG members will carry out what is expected to be more than 1,000 site visits so that the effectiveness of measures they have in place to control their workers’ exposure to respiratory risks from dust can be assessed. The findings from these visits and the results of a conducted survey will, when incorporated with the HSE’s own findings, allow them and with this wider dataset to evaluate ongoing practices across the industry with the end goal being to improve the health of construction workers.

If this alert has raised questions or you need to discuss any other health & safety related issue do not hesitate to contact your health & safety consultant or the main office for advice/assistance.