The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new campaign to monitor the health of construction workers, and to see if firms are taking precautions against damage to the health of their employees seriously.
The campaign will focus on the respiratory systems of construction workers exposed to site dust on a regular basis and will determine whether HSE control measures guidance is being followed correctly and adequately. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations state that protection must be given against the risks from inhalation of construction industry dust, such as against the high levels of silica dust produced by the use of cut-off saws on roofing tiles, for example.
As many as 500 deaths of construction workers per year, are believed to be as a result of exposure to silica dust.
Unannounced HSE site health inspection visits
The HSE has issued a warning to construction companies and site managers to ensure the guidelines are being followed ahead of unannounced site health inspection visits. A spokesperson for the HSE said, ‘Employers and workers need to know the risks, plan their work and use the right controls. Many common construction tasks can produce high levels of dust, including cutting roofing tiles.’
Assess, Control, Review
The HSE guidelines include the Assess, Control, Review model, which lays out specific advice for the prevention of harmful substance inhalation.
The first part is akin to the Risk Assessment and will deal with the identification and assessment of risk to any worker that could be affected by dust.
This part is about prevention and ensures measures are in place to limit risk. This will include many details, such as modification to design, determining correct equipment and materials, planning for saw use and making a dedicated cutting area with a supply of water.
This part ensures that adequate checks, supervision and maintenance of equipment is carried out to meet the HSE guidelines.
Full details can be found on the HSE website here.