The HSE is planning a construction industry inspection blitz, focusing on dust. HSE inspectors across Great Britain will be targeting construction sites during a month-long inspection initiative, starting on Monday 4 October 2021.
This year inspections will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease, looking at the control measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from construction dust including silica, asbestos and wood dust. This is part of HSE’s longer-term strategy to improve health within the construction industry.
While the primary focus will be on health during this programme of inspections, safety breaches will not be ignored. If an inspector identifies any immediate safety risks, they will take the necessary action, HSE said.
Inspectors will be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls.
The initiative will be supported by HSE’s WorkRight campaign, aimed at influencing 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 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 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.
“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 protective equipment.”
The Construction Index September 2021