This edition of our Newsletter will tell you all about dust. It will highlight the dangers of dust, the implications it can have on your health as well as three key points that should be followed to ensure your own and your workforces safety. The article will also tell you about the new HSE campaign ‘Dustbuster’ which is running throughout October. The below information has been taken from the ‘HSE’ website.

Construction dust is not just a nuisance; it can seriously damage your health and some types can eventually even kill. Substances such as dust can cause allergies if you breathe them in and these are called sensitisers. They can cause permanent damage to your nose, throat and lungs. Once sensitised, further exposure will result in asthmatic problems which are shown through symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, tightness of chest, breathlessness and runny eyes & nose which can lead you to have occupational asthma. Regularly breathing in these dusts over a long time can also cause illnesses such as lung diseases.

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

Key Points To Follow Ensure Your Safety

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) cover activities which may expose workers to construction dust and there are three key things you need to do: 

  • Undertake a risk Assessment of the risks linked to the work and materials while also focusing on the task, work area, frequency and time involved and carefully planning the work.
  • Controlling the risks by designing out or reducing the amount of dust produced, such as:

-Using the right size of building materials so less cutting or preparation is needed
-Using a less powerful tool – e.g. a block splitter instead of a cut-off saw
-Correctly using water to suppress dust
-Using on tool extraction (local exhaust ventilation) with the correct type of filters
-Limiting the number of people near the work
-Rotating those doing the task
-Enclosing the work to stop dust escaping. Use sheeting or temporary screens
-General mechanical ventilation to remove dusty air from the work area (e.g. in enclosed spaces such as indoors)
-Selecting work clothes that do not keep hold of the dust
-Using the correct type respiratory protective equipment (RPE) which has been face fit tested on the individual
-Training those involved in the work process and providing and communicating the correct information to workers

Review the controls are working by:

-Having procedures to ensure that work is done in the right way:-Carrying out dust carry out dust exposure  monitoring when required
-Involving workers as they can help identify problems and find solutions
-Maintaining equipment
-Supervising workers and making sure they: – use the controls provided
-Follow the correct work method
-Attend any health surveillance where it is needed. 

HSE ‘Dustbuster’ Campaign

HSE Health and safety inspectors across Great Britain will be targeting construction firms to check that their health standards are up to scratch during a month-long inspection initiative which started on the 5th October 2020 as part of their fourth health-focused initiative. As in previous years, inspections will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease; looking at the measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica and wood dust. This is part of HSE’s longer term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry.

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

The primary focus will be on health during this programme of inspections but if a HSE inspector identifies any other areas of concern, they will 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 and make workplaces COVID-secure.

For more information on this topic please click on the link below which will take you directly to the HSE webpage: https://press.hse.gov.uk/2020/09/24/health-and-safety-executive-cracks-down-on-dust/

Here at BSA we are able to help ensure you and your workforce safety comes first. We offer a range of services which can assist you with this. These services are displayed on our website, please click on the link below to explore our services:

If you would like to speak to one of our specialists about how we can help you please email bsims@bsims.co.uk or call us on 01483 467270 today!

We look forward to hearing from you soon,

Bernard Sims Associates