During October inspectors will visit construction sites where the HSE has identified probable respiratory risks. The HSE told IOSH Magazine inspectors would be looking for evidence that construction workers know the risks, are conscious that their work may create hazardous dust and have considered how the work could affect their health and those around them.
The HSE said the sites and the activities targeted will be decided at a regional, operational, level. The findings will be reported on later this year.
“Inspectors will also be looking to see if construction workers are thinking about the job from start to finish, avoiding any disturbance of asbestos, are trying to work in different ways to avoid creating dust and are avoiding using power tools where possible,” the spokesperson added.
During the campaign, inspectors will be looking also for evidence to show that workers are keeping dust down by using the correct equipment, that the correct water damping, or dust extraction is being used to stop dust getting into the air and spreading, and that workers are donning the correct mask and clothing where it is needed.
Construction workers have a high risk of developing dust-related diseases such a lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma. More than 500 construction workers die from exposure to silica dust every year.
Peter Baker, the HSE’s 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.”