HSE’s Dust Kills Campaign – June 2022

Construction sites across Great Britain are currently being targeted as part of a month-long respiratory health initiative by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The month-long health initiative was announced on Monday 6th June and put in motion right away.

Throughout June, inspections supported by the HSE’s Work Right Dust Kills campaign will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.

Each year within the construction industry, there are thousands of avoidable cases of ill health caused by lung disease due to current and past exposure to dust at work. These diseases can unfortunately often have a life-changing impact and can result in an early death.

HSE’s Dust Kills Campaign

As part of the HSE’s Dust Kills Campaign, the HSE will be undertaking a number of site inspections and will have a specific focus on dust control, checking that employers and workers know the risks, the planning of work and are that workers are using the right controls.

The HSE have 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)

–       Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)

–       Construction Leadership Council (CLC)

–       Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG)

–       Construction Dust Partnership.

The initiative will be supported by HSE’s Dust Kills campaign, aimed at influencing people’s behaviour by encouraging them to download free guidance and advice. The HSE have also provided information to support workers, helping them to understand the risks and how to stay healthy.

Construction Dust - Work Right to keep Britain safe

The Future of Construction Event 2021 | IGPP
View from HSE Chief Inspector Sarah Jardine

The HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, said: “Occupational lung disease is preventable. 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.”

As part of HSE’s longer 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 main aim of the inspection initiative is to ensure that workers’ health is being protected. However, it is important to remember that if safety risks or other areas of concern are identified, inspectors will still be taking the necessary action to deal with them.

Sarah Jardine also stated “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.”

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.

Reducing Exposure
Some of the most common construction jobs create high dust levels. These jobs often involve the use of power tools like cut-off saws, grinders, breakers and sanders.  
There is a legal duty for employers to prevent or adequately control worker exposure to construction dust. Ideally, your employer will eliminate your risk of exposure to dust by good design and planning. Where this is not entirely possible, measures should be put in place by your employer to control dust and you should wear an appropriate mask.

How to Reduce Dust - Hilti Oman

For more information on the programme of inspections visit the HSE’s Work Right campaign webpage below.