HSE – Targets respiratory dust

Proactive inspections of construction sites by HSE have found that many are failing to prevent health risks.

A national targeted inspection focusing on health risks for construction workers saw enforcement action taken at one-in-six of 560 sites visited.

HSE inspectors undertook a two-week period of proactive inspections and demanded improvements, and in some cases put an immediate stop to work activities, where they fell short of expected standards.

Inspectors focused on significant health risk issues, such as respiratory risks from dust containing silica materials, exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint, manual handling, noise and vibration.

Final figures have yet to be confirmed by inspectors found that conditions were so poor in some situations that the work had to be stopped on at least 13 occasions.

Of the 560 sites visited, inspectors served enforcement notices on 85 of them. Thirteen prohibition notices were served (where certain work or practices had to be stopped until improvements were made) and 107 improvement notices. A total of 239 health-related notices of contravention were served at 201 of the sites.

“We recognise the construction sector’s progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured by its activities. But it is clear from these figures that there is an unacceptable toll of ill health and fatal disease in the industry,” said HSE’s chief inspector Heather Bryant.

“So, to encourage the industry to treat health issues in the same way as safety, HSE’s inspectors will consolidate the efforts of this initiative throughout the rest of the year by looking at the prevention and control of health risks in construction alongside their continued assessment of the management of safety risk issues.”

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