The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will target construction sites during a month-long respiratory health campaign in June.
Its Dust Kills campaign will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.
Starting from yesterday (6 June), the HSE has begun a series of site inspections, with a specific focus on dust control. Inspectors are checking that employers and workers know the risks, plan their work and are using the right controls.
They will also be checking that control measures are in place to protect workers from inhaling construction dust, including respirable crystalline silica (RCS) and wood dust. The HSE said the primary aim of the initiative is to protect workers’ health. However, if safety risks or other areas of concern are identified, inspectors will take action.
Each year in the construction industry, past exposure to dust at work causes thousands of preventable cases of lung disease. These diseases often have a life-changing impact and can result in an early death, according to the HSE.
HSE has partnered with construction and occupational health organisations to highlight the control measures required. 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 the Construction Dust Partnership.
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.
“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 dutyholders 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.”
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