HSE respiratory health site inspection initiative for the construction sector
Site inspections across Great Britain throughout June 2022
Every week, workers in the construction industry develop serious lung diseases that can have a devastating impact on them and their families.
During June, the HSE will be carrying out a health inspection initiative focusing on the respiratory risks to construction workers from exposure to dust.
Running from Monday 6 June – Friday 1 July 2022, the inspection initiative aims to support industry by raising awareness of health issues in relation to dust exposure to improve the long-term health of those working in construction.
Dust can kill.
Regularly breathing construction dust can cause diseases like lung cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and silicosis.
Construction workers have a high risk of developing these diseases because many common construction tasks can create high dust levels. These diseases cause permanent disability and early death.
Rights and responsibilities when working on a construction site
Regardless of the size of your business, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers’ health. Some of the most common construction jobs create high dust levels. These jobs often involve the use of power tools like cut-off saws, grinders, breakers and sanders.
There is a legal duty for employers to prevent or adequately control worker exposure to construction dust. Ideally, you will eliminate workers risk of exposure to dust by good design and planning. Where this is not entirely possible, you should put measures in place to control dust and provide workers with appropriate masks.
Plan jobs to eliminate the risks from dust where you can. Otherwise, use measures to control dust and minimise the risk.
Employees need to play their part and take responsibility for wearing a mask. A mask does not offer protection if it leaks. A major cause of leaks is poor fit – tight fitting masks need to be fitted to a person’s face to be effective. Face Fit training ensures the employee understands the importance of wearing respiratory protection, the type of mask to wear to suit the task and how to wear it properly.
Don’t gamble with your future health by taking unnecessary risks today. Talk to your employer about the risks from dust and how to avoid them.
Managing the risk:
- Damp down the dust – water suppression is your first line of defence
- On-tool extraction is an effective control for dust and will reduce your risk of ill health. On-tool extraction is a type of local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system which is fitted directly onto the tool.
- Wear a suitable mask