Life-threatening lung disease caused by silica dust claims the lives of more than 500 construction workers each year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is planning targeted site visits across the UK this summer, supported their HSE’s “Dust Kills” campaign, to focus on respiratory risks from exposure to dust.
Inspectors will check control measures in place to protect workers from inhaling construction dusts including silica (Respirable Crystalline Silica/RCS) and wood dust. They will also check that asbestos-containing materials have been identified and removed or managed where necessary to prevent or reduce exposure.
Dust particles are a particularly dangerous workplace risk as the particles can be 100 times smaller than a grain of sand. It can take decades before the damage is visible, making treatment less effective.
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.
“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).