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Construction site inspections to focus on health

23 June 2014

Poor working conditions likely to lead to ill health on building sites will be targeted this month as part of HSE efforts to reduce death, injury and ill health in the industry.

For every fatal accident in the construction industry, it is estimated that a worker is at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work.

During a concentrated two-week drive beginning Monday 23rd June the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will make unannounced visits across the country, focusing on ill health on construction sites.

Inspectors will be looking in particular at respiratory risks from dusts including silica materials; exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint; manual handling, noise and vibration.

In 2012/13, 39 construction workers were killed. However, more than 500 deaths a year are due to silica exposure alone.

HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, Heather Bryant, said: "The construction sector has made good progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured by its activities. We need to tackle where workers are unnecessarily being exposed to serious health risks, such as silica dust, which can have fatal or debilitating consequences.

"This initiative provides a chance to engage with these firms to help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe.

"However, let me be clear – poor risk management and a lack of awareness of responsibilities is unacceptable.

"Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law.”

On every site inspectors will be taking steps to ensure that there are acceptable standards for:
  • Dust control including silica containing materials;
  • Other hazardous substances, e.g. cement, lead in paint;
  • Manual handling and repetitive tasks e.g. involving twisting or awkward posture
  • Noise control
  • Use of vibrating tools
Further information about the Initiative and safe-working in construction can be found online at: www.hse.gov.uk/construction