HSE summer inspections to target dust in construction

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HSE has begun a series of summer inspections targeting dust exposure risk at construction sites across Great Britain.

The inspection drive is part of HSE’s Dust Kills campaign, which provides free advice to businesses and workers on the control measures required to prevent exposure to dust.

Starting on Monday 15 May, the inspections will run throughout June and July.

HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Michael Thomas, said: “Every year we see construction workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work. This is unacceptable in the 21st century, when occupational lung disease is preventable.

“We are urging employers and workers to take the necessary precautions today to protect their long-term lung health, to avoid them and their families suffering from the devastating impact that can result.”

12,000 deaths every year are thought to be caused by past exposures to dust at work. Photograph: iStock

Inspectors will focus on dust control, checking the control measures employers have in place to protect workers from inhaling construction dusts including silica and wood dust. 

They will also investigate how far asbestos containing materials have been identified, removed, or managed to reduce exposure.

Peter Crosland, director at National Civil Engineering, a partner of the Dusk Kills campaign, 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.

“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.”

Each year, 12,000 workers die due to occupational lung disease caused by previous exposures. These irreversible lung diseases often have a life-changing impact and can result in an early death.  

Lung cancer in never-smokers is the eighth most common cancer-related death in the UK, higher than ovarian cancer and leukaemia, says Cancer Research UK.

HSE's Dust Kills campaign here


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