The workplace health and safety watchdog will be visiting construction firms across Britain to check up on the measures they have in place to protect their workers from substances such as asbestos, silica and wood dust.
Kicking off yesterday (Monday 5th October 2020), the inspection drive is the fourth health-focused initiative of its kind.
Improving health at work
It forms part of the HSE’s longer-term health and work strategy, which aims to improve health within the construction industry, and will follow previous years in focusing on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.
Inspectors from the watchdog will be looking to see that employers and workers alike are aware of the risks and that work is planned appropriately, with the right controls in place.
The HSE will not hesitate to use enforcement action where necessary to ensure that people are protected, and, while health is the primary focus of these inspections, any other areas of concern noted will also be dealt with appropriately.
One additional area of interest will be how businesses are ensuring that they protect their workers from coronavirus risks and make workplaces COVID-secure.
Dustbuster campaign tackles deaths
This latest inspection initiative will also be supported by the HSE’s ‘Dustbuster’ campaign, which aims to positively influence employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice in order to increase their knowledge and ability to protect workers’ health.
The focused inspections on construction are driven by some very serious figures.
Statistics show that more than 3,500 builders die each year from cancers that are related to their work, and there are still thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost.
Sarah Jardine, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction, explains:
“Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.
“Our inspection initiatives ensure that inspectors are able to speak to dutyholders and visit sites to look at the kind of action businesses in the construction industry are taking right now to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs.
“There are a few simple things that everyone can do to make sure they are protecting their health and their future.
“Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right mask and clothing.”
You can sign up to construction updates from the HSE online. You can also follow their Dustbuster campaign on Twitter by following @H_S_E, or on Facebook via @hsegovuk and @SaferSites. You can also track and join the conversation by following the hashtag #Dustbuster.
Common sense health and safety
First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.
They deliver a wide and diverse range of training courses in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, specialist safety, mental health, health and social care and more.
They can offer courses in subjects such as Asbestos Awareness, Handling of Hazardous Substances and accredited options such as IOSH Working Safely and IOSH Managing Safely.
A trainer from FRT says: “Occupational cancers devastate thousands of lives and, perhaps this year more than others, we are acutely aware of the damage that respiratory diseases can do. Its so important, now more than ever, that employers protect themselves and their workers by following simple, common sense health and safety measures that keep them safe.”
For more information on any of the training courses that FRT can offer, please call them on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to [email protected].