The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is checking respiratory health on construction sites as part of a month-long campaign to reduce occupational lung disease.
Throughout June, site inspections will have a specific focus on dust control, checking employers and workers know the risks, plan their work and are using the right controls.
Each year in the construction industry, there are thousands of preventable cases of ill health caused by lung disease due to past exposure to dust at work. These diseases often have a life-changing impact and can result in an early death.
As part of regulator’s long-term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry, inspectors will be checking the control measures in place to protect workers from inhaling construction dust including Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) and wood dust.
The primary aim of the Dust Kills initiative is to ensure workers’ health is being protected. However, if safety risks or other areas of concern are identified, inspectors will take the necessary action to deal with them.
“Occupational lung disease is preventable,” said Sarah Jardine, the HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction. “It can have a devastating impact on both the individuals affected and their family. Every year, construction workers are dying from diseases caused or made worse by their work. We are urging employers and workers to take the necessary precautions today to protect their long-term lung health.”
The health and safety watchdog has partnered with construction and occupational health organisations to highlight the control measures required on site to prevent exposure to dust. The network of Dust Kills partners includes British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) and Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), Construction Leadership Council (CLC), Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) and Construction Dust Partnership.
Sarah continued: “Through our inspection initiatives, inspectors can visit a range of construction sites to check the action businesses are taking to ensure their workers’ health is being protected. Through speaking to duty-holders we can make sure they have considered the job from start to finish and are effectively managing the risks.
“We want everyone, workers and their employers, to be aware of the risks associated with any task that produces dust and use effective control measures, such as water suppression, extraction and masks, to prevent exposure to dust to ensure they are protected from harm and ill health.”