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HSE in site dust crackdown

25 September 2020
Image: Dreamstime/Zazamaza

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will target construction firms to check that they are dealing with the risk of occupational lung disease and other respiratory risks created by dust.

The month-long inspection initiative will start on 5 October. While the primary focus will be on the risk to workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica and wood dust, if an HSE inspector identifies any other area of concern, the HSE warned they would take the necessary enforcement action to deal with them. This will include making sure that businesses are doing all they can to protect their workers from the risk of coronavirus.

Inspectors will also be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.

The construction initiative will be supported by HSE’s ‘Dustbuster’ campaign, aimed to influence employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.

More than 3,500 builders die each year from cancers related to their work, with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost.

HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, said: “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 dutyholders 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.

“There are a few simple things that everyone can do to make sure they are protecting their health and their future. Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right mask and clothing.”