HSE has begun a month long campaign that will see inspectors target UK construction sites with a specific focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.
The construction blitz will last through October and will specifically assess the measures businesses have in place to protect workers’ lungs from asbestos, silica and wood dust. This includes evidence of construction workers knowing the risk, planning their work, and using the right controls.
HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, Peter Baker, said workplace health was an often overlooked element of construction site safety, but that workplace diseases were ultimately responsible for more deaths than safety accidents.
“Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are killed in construction accidents.”
“Annually, work-related cancers, mainly linked to asbestos and silica, are estimated to kill 3,500 people from the industry. Thousands of others suffer life-changing illnesses from their work.”
Baker said it was a misconception that all lung diseases took years to develop, and that some such as acute silicosis or occupational asthma, can occur more quickly.
“As a result, we’ve launched this inspection initiative to find out what exactly businesses in the construction industry are doing today to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs.”
“We want construction workers to be aware of the risks associated with the activities they carry out on a daily basis; be conscious of the fact their work may create hazardous dust; and consider how this could affect their health, in some cases irreversibly.”
“We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust or disturbing asbestos by working in different ways, and to see construction firms encouraging their workers to firstly keep the dust down and wear the right mask and clothing.”
HSE have information and resources to help assess whether your site is ready for a health inspection.