Construction Industry Targeted in new HSE Inspections
Posted: 12th October 2018
For the first time, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) are conducting targeted inspections on construction sites, with a specific focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease. The HSE will be looking at the control measures in place at each site to protect workers' lungs from asbestos, silica and wood dust.
Throughout this month, inspectors will be visiting sites and construction firms across the country specifically looking for workers to demonstrate knowledge of risks, planning work activities and using appropriate control measures and if required, will use enforcement to ensure protection of workers.
HSE's Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Construction said:
“Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are killed in construction accidents. Annually, work-related cancers, mainly linked to asbestos and silica, are estimated to kill 3,500 people from the industry. Thousands of others suffer life-changing illnesses from their work. Not all lung diseases take years to develop. Some, like acute silicosis or occupational asthma, can occur more quickly."
Thousands of people die from work related lung diseases every year, in many cases due to exposures that have taken place in previous years. Inhaling certain gases, dusts, fumes and vapours in the workplace can cause serious, long term lung damage. Diseases such asbestosis, silicosis, chronic pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, emphysema and even lung cancer can result from exposure.
Peter Baker continues;
“As a result, we’ve launched this inspection initiative to find out what exactly businesses in the construction industry are doing today to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs. We want construction workers to be aware of the risks associated with the activities they carry out on a daily basis; be conscious of the fact their work may create hazardous dust; and consider how this could affect their health, in some cases irreversibly. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust or disturbing asbestos by working in different ways. We want to see construction firms encouraging their workers to firstly keep the dust down and wear the right mask and clothing."
Employers are obliged by law to protect their workers through exploring alternative processes, using less hazardous materials, providing enclosures/effective ventilation and personal protective equipment (which should only be used as a last resort). Appropriate training, supervision and instruction for employees carrying out their duties is also an important factor in keeping everyone safe at work.
All those working in the industry should be receive Asbestos Awareness Training, providing delegates with the knowledge and understanding of the potential risks of asbestos. Additionally, wearing the correctly fitted RPE could also help safeguard your employees from the risks associated with working with gases, fumes, vapours and dusts. Providing qualitative face fitting to your employees from an external provider, or alternatively training someone within your organisation to provide this in-house enables this to ensure that the service is being carried out by a competent person. For more information, please call 0333 666 0555 and speak with one of our advisors.