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Are You a #Dustbuster? Information on HSE Dust Inspections, Respiratory Hazards and Training

Posted on Thursday, 4th October 2018

Are You a #Dustbuster? Information on HSE Dust Inspections, Respiratory Hazards and Training

Just this week, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed that they will be carrying out their latest construction inspection initiative throughout October. The campaign will focus on the measures sites and employers are putting in place to protect workers from occupational lung diseases.

Read on for the latest on the HSE #dustbuster campaign information and what your firm can do to prepare for an HSE inspection.

HSE Launch #Dustbuster Initiative

The HSE’s ‘dustbuster’ construction inspection initiative will last throughout October 2018 with inspectors keen to check that the construction industry is aware of the risks involved when dust is present on site. HSE want to ensure that everyone in the industry, employers and employees alike can properly plan work and use the right control measures such as the right training.

The campaign and inspection initiative is the first time that HSE have specifically investigated respiratory risks and occupational lung disease in the construction industry, but it isn’t surprising, considering that there are around 8,000 work-related cancer deaths every year in the UK and that the construction industry accounts for around 3,500 of these, with asbestos and silica the major causes.

image is a HSE campaign poster for the #dustbuster initiative

Respiratory Hazards in Construction

Regularly breathing dust on construction sites can cause diseases like lung cancer, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and silicosis. Construction workers have a higher risk of developing these diseases because many common tasks can create dust, dry cutting, sweeping and sanding, for instance. It’s also believed that over 500 construction workers die each year from exposure to silica dust alone.

The most devastating of course is the exposure to the dust from asbestos and the associated illnesses and deaths that occur later on in life.

HSE chief inspector of construction, Peter Baker says: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are killed in construction accidents.

“Annually, work-related cancers, mainly linked to asbestos and silica, are estimated to kill 3,500 people from the industry. Thousands of others suffer life-changing illnesses from their work.

“Not all lung diseases take years to develop. Some, like acute silicosis or occupational asthma, can occur more quickly.

“As a result, we’ve launched this inspection initiative to find out what exactly businesses in the construction industry are doing today to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs.

What Does the Initiative Mean for Construction Companies?

As reported by Construction Index, if sites and companies inspected are found to have poor standards, ‘action will be taken’.

Although that should be perhaps considered a warning, there could be a bit of scaremongering at work here. Several other news outlets have published alarming headlines this week, calling the initiative a ‘blitz’ and putting a lot of emphasis on the news of inspections, rather than the campaign message.

The initiative should be seen as a positive cause; action is being taken to look after the UK’s construction workers. That can only be a good thing and here at Essential Site Skills, it’s something we wholeheartedly welcome and support.

in addition to inspections, HSE is trying to raise awareness and provide support to companies and workers who need it. it’s an education and research exercise, not an opportunity to trap and fine employers.

Image shows a construction worker coughing

How Can Essential Site Skills Help You Become a #Dustbuster?

Essential Site Skills are passionate about education and safety, especially when it comes to respiratory illnesses. We work with BOHS initiative Breathe Freely and have won awards for our work to help educate people on the dangers of asbestos.

We can help construction firms reduce the risk of respiratory illness with specialist training, qualifications, consultancy and advice. Our dedicated trainers can deliver courses at your site, our learning centres, and via our recently launched E-Learning.

It’s a fact that construction work doesn’t have to be dangerous – workers who are prepared and sufficiently trained can have long, healthy careers. Training and education are both key to long-term health in the construction industry.

Training Courses That Can Help Reduce the Risk of Respiratory Illnesses

HSE has stated that they will be specifically looking for evidence of construction workers knowing the risk of dust, planning their work and using the right controls. In other words; that workers are educated.

We can support you and your workers with a range of training designed to meet the needs of those who encounter dust in the workplace.

The most popular courses we offer are UKATA Asbestos, Face Fit and Face Fit Test The Trainer training.

Other relevant courses include; BOHS accredited Certificate in Controlling health Risks Construction, COSHH, and Risk Assessment Training.

We also provide certificates and refresher training for CITB Site Supervision Safety Training (SSSTS) and CITB Site Management Safety Training (SMSTS).

Further Information

If you are worried about impending inspections, aren’t sure that you have adequate control measures in place or would like to discuss any of our training courses. Then please give us a call on 0115 8970 529 or use our contact form.

You can show you support the HSE campaign by printing selfie cards from their website, posing with them (just like our team in the picture below!) and posting your best snaps to social media. Use #DustBuster, #WorkRight and @H_S_E to get a repost from the HSE! 

image shows the Essential Site Skills team holding HSE poster becuase they support the #dustbuster #workright campaign

Essential Site Skills also recommend The Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) as a good resource library on ill health and disease in the construction industry, including specific information on respiratory illnesses.