HSE to crack down on dust with visits in October

HSE is clamping down on dust with inspections focusing on the construction industry in October.

Health & Safety Executive Inspectors across Great Britain will be targeting construction firms during a month-long inspection initiative starting on Monday 5 October. They are focusing on dust in particular. 

This is the fourth health-focused initiative of its kind. As in previous years, inspections will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease, checking the measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from asbestos, silica and wood dust.

This is part of HSE’s longer term health and work strategy to improve health in the construction industry, which accounts for a disproportionately high level of annual workplace deaths, injuries and industrial diseases.

More than 3,500 construction workers die each year from cancers (mostly lung) related to their work, with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost. Around 100 times more die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are killed in accidents.

While the primary focus will be on health during this programme of inspections, if an HSE inspector identifies any other areas of concern they will take the necessary enforcement action to deal with them. And it is firms that pay for enforcement action taken against them.

The HSE inspections will include making sure businesses are doing all they can to make working environments Covid-secure in order to protect their workers from the risk of coronavirus infection.

Inspectors will be looking for evidence showing employers and workers are aware of the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.

The inspections support HSE’s ‘Dustbuster’ campaign, the intention of which is to get companies in the construction industry to download free guidance and advice that increases their knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.

Stone companies are particularly encourage to act, especially those processing high silica granites, engineered quartz, sandstone and slate. A part of the HSE website is devoted to the stone industry, which is a particularly high risk sector. For dust advice to stone companies, click here.

HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, says: “Our inspection initiatives ensure that inspectors are able to speak to dutyholders and visit sites to look at the kind of action businesses in the construction industry are taking right now to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs.

“There are a few simple things that everyone can do to make sure they are protecting their health and their future. Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right mask and clothing.”