HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Michael Thomas, said: “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).
For more information visit the Work Right campaign page.
HSE has 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 Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) and Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), Construction Leadership Council (CLC), Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) and Construction Dust Partnership.