HSE inspectors crack down on respiratory risks

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be targeting construction firms across Britain next month to check they are protecting workers from respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.

The month-long inspection initiative, starting on Monday 4th October 2021, will focus on the control measures that construction firms have in place to protect their workers from silica, asbestos and wood dust.

Improving construction worker health

The initiative forms part of HSE’s longer term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry.

The HSE will be inspecting construction sitesIt will be supported by their WorkRight campaign, which encourages builders to download free guidance and advice in order to increase knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.

Britain’s health and safety watchdog is being supported by the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) and Tier 1 industry contractors to conduct more than 1,000 site visits throughout October.

Inspectors will assess the effectiveness of measures that firms have in place to control workers’ exposure to the respiratory risks from construction dust.

The findings from these visits and a survey will provide the HSE with a wide dataset to evaluate ongoing practices across industry. The insights will support the regulator’s strategic plan to broaden the range and depth of future regulatory health interventions.

Inspectors prepared to take action

Inspectors will be looking for evidence that employers and workers are aware of the risks, planning their work accordingly and using the right control measures.

The watchdog has also warned that, while inspectors will focus on health and, in particular, respiratory risks, during this inspection initiative, they will also take action to tackle any other areas of concern they identify, such as immediate safety risks.

Simple measures to save lives

The focused inspections on construction are driven by some very serious figures. More than 3,500 construction workers die each year after developing cancers related to their work.

There are also thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost each year due to exposure to dust.

The Chief Inspector of Construction at the HSE, Sarah Jardine, said:

“Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.”

She added that there were simple measures that everyone can do to ensure they are protecting their health: “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 protective equipment.”

Construction safety training and support

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. It’s so important 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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH urges firms to manage carcinogens during Covid-19

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has urged businesses to ensure they are safely managing carcinogens in their workplaces during Covid-19.

The warning came as the world’s largest professional health and safety body marked the sixth anniversary of their No Time to Lose campaign, aimed at highlighting the causes of occupational cancer and helping businesses take action to protect workers.

Global research estimates that as many as 742,000 people die every year because of cancer caused by their work – this equates to one person every 43 seconds.

In fact, more people die from work-related cancer than from accidents at work.

IOSH says that these deaths are all preventable, and their No Time to Lose campaign has focused on providing businesses with free practical resources to help them manage dangerous carcinogens in the workplace.

Supported by 400 leading organisations from across the world, the campaign targets the four serious carcinogens:

  • Asbestos
  • Silica dust
  • Solar radiation
  • Diesel fumes

They are warning firms not to overlook the dangers of these carcinogens as they concentrate on the risks posed by the current Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.

Their webinar, ‘Managing the risks of workplace carcinogens: what your organisation needs to do now’, was held on 29th October and a panel discussion was chaired by IOSH Council member and NTTL Ambassador Keith Hole. It brought together expert researchers, professional bodies, campaigners and those affected by work-related cancer to talk about why effectively managing the risks from carcinogens is so important.

Many people shared personal stories about how they had contracted deadly cancers through exposure in the workplace, and how Covid-19 has impacted their treatment.

The CEO of the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), Kevin Bampton, spoke of his organisation’s Breathe Freely campaign. He explained: “Breathe Freely has been running for five years. It works in parallel with IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign to reach the construction and manufacturing industries. The most dangerous exposures are those that you breathe and touch. Our campaign targets leaders to highlight how to prevent exposure at work.

“Breathe Freely is widely available with more resources.”

Meanwhile, a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Imperial College London, Dr Ian Mudway, revealed some of the key findings from the IOSH-funded Driver Diesel Exposure Mitigation Study (DEMiSt), which is the largest research study of its kind. He said:

“People underestimate the environment that they work in. We live in a chemical soup and it’s a really big issue. Diesel emissions are associated with lung cancer, COPD, heart disease and dementia. People at highest risk are drivers.

“We studied 150 drivers across different sectors in London. We gave them a device to measure black carbon emissions and exposures were really high. Taxi drivers were at the top of the list of exposure.”

IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign has previously won the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Mark of Excellence Award for Best International Campaign.

You can access their award-winning resources – which have been downloaded around 130,000 times – at their website.

Watch a recording of the recent webinar on YouTube.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider. They deliver a wide and diverse range of training programmes for all industry sectors throughout the UK.

Their course portfolio includes training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and many more topics.

FRT can deliver training awards in Asbestos Awareness and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) and they are also approved by IOSH to deliver some of their world-renowned, externally certificated training courses, such as IOSH Working Safely and IOSH Managing Safely.

A trainer from FRT says: “Unlike an accident at work, where failings in health and safety become immediately apparent, it can take years for someone to develop cancer due to past exposures to carcinogens at work.

“This means that many people could be being exposed and working in dangerous environments without really understanding the damage it could be doing to their health.

“It’s so important that anyone who comes into contact with carcinogens in their work is aware of the dangers and is properly equipped to manage and reduce the risks as far as possible. This comes from the top down – businesses operating in industries affected by these risks must do all they can to protect their workers. As IOSH have highlighted, these deaths are preventable – they are certainly not inevitable.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

HSE focuses on respiratory risks

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has begun a month-long targeted inspection initiative, focusing on respiratory risks in the construction industry.

HSE is focusing on the dangers of dustThe 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 be inspecting construction sitesThe 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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.