HSE’s month-long Dust Kills campaign will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.
From this week, site inspections will have a specific focus on dust control, checking employers and workers know the risks, plan their work and are using the right controls.
Campaign partners include British Occupational Hygiene Society, Construction Industry Advisory Committee, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Leadership Council, Health in Construction Leadership Group and Construction Dust Partnership.
HSE chief inspector of construction Sarah Jardine said: “Occupational lung disease is preventable. It can have a devastating impact on both the individuals affected and their family. Every year, construction workers are dying from diseases caused or made worse by their work. We are urging employers and workers to take the necessary precautions today to protect their long-term lung health.
“Through our inspection initiatives, inspectors can visit a range of construction sites to check the action businesses are taking to ensure their workers’ health is being protected. Through speaking to dutyholders we can make sure they have considered the job from start to finish and are effectively managing the risks.
“We want everyone, workers and their employers, to be aware of the risks associated with any task that produces dust and use effective control measures, such as water suppression, extraction and masks, to prevent exposure to dust to ensure they are protected from harm and ill health.”
Civil Engineering Contractors Association director Peter Crosland said “Construction workers still die every week from respiratory related illnesses brought on by their work and this is clearly not acceptable in the 21st century. The reasons behind these fatalities are, I believe, quite complex as no one intentionally sets out to cause harm to either themselves or others but nevertheless these illnesses are still occurring.
“Some of the possible reasons include lack of awareness of the legal duties of employers, lack of awareness of the damage dust can actually cause and lack of time on projects to plan work properly, and that’s both at the design stage and on site. Working together with HSE and other stakeholders, we hope to provide valuable advice to those that need it most.”