HSE’s Campaign – Construction Dust – Work Right To Keep Britain Safe
Construction sites across Great Britain are currently being targeted as part of a month-long initiative by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The month-long health initiative which starts today, Monday 15th May 2023, and runs until Friday 14th July focuses on the respiratory risks from exposure to dust.
The inspection initiative and supporting Dust Kills campaign aim to support the industry by raising awareness of health issues in relation to dust exposure and the importance of effective control measures to improve the long-term health of those working in construction.
Each year in the construction industry, there are thousands of preventable cases of irreversible lung disease due to past exposure to dust at work. These diseases often have a life-changing impact and can result in early death.
The information from this article has been taken directly from the HSE and Work Right websites.
Comments from HSE Chief Inspector of Construction – Michael Thomas
“Every year we see construction workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work. This is unacceptable in the 21st century, when occupational lung disease is preventable.
“We are urging employers and workers to take the necessary precautions today to protect their long-term lung health, to avoid them and their families suffering from the devastating impact that can result.”
Starting on Monday, 15 May 2023, the inspections, part of a respiratory health intervention initiative, will specifically focus on dust control, checking employers and workers know the risks, plan their work, and are using the right controls.
Inspectors will be checking the control measures in place to protect workers from inhaling construction dusts including silica (Respirable Crystalline Silica/RCS) and wood dust. They will also gain assurances that asbestos containing materials have been identified and removed or managed where necessary to prevent or reduce exposure.
The initiative is supported by HSE’s Dust Kills campaign. This provides simplified advice and guidance on the Work Right website, for employers, small builders and workers, to help everyone understand the risks and how to stay healthy on site.
The primary aim of the inspection 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.
Michael Thomas continued: “Our inspectors will visit a range of construction sites to check businesses are taking the necessary action to ensure their workers’ long-term respiratory health is being protected. Through engaging with those on site, we can make sure they have considered the job from start to finish, have considered the risks at each stage, and are managing the risks with effective measures in line with the broad hierarchy of control options such as water suppression, extraction, and as a last resort Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE).
Dust particles can be 100 times smaller than a grain of sand. You don’t need to see them to breathe them in. Once in your lungs, dust will start causing damage. Exposure to dust can lead to severe breathing difficulties and lung diseases that can ruin lives and cause an early death.
It can take years before the damage is visible and by then it can be too late. Make sure you are aware of the risks and work in ways that always protect your lung health.
For more information on the programme of inspections visit the HSE’s Work Right campaign webpage below.