HSE to target construction firms with asbestos health inspection

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The Health and Safety Executive will be targeting construction firms across Great Britain to inspect the measures businesses have put in place to protect their workers from asbestos, silica and wood dust

This is the first time the executive has targeted construction firms with a specific focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.

HSE will visit the firms throughout October and is looking for evidence to ascertain whether workers know about the relevant risks at hand. If necessary the executive has said it will use enforcement to ensure people are protected.

HSE’s Peter Baker, chief inspector of construction said: “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.

“We want construction workers to be aware of the risks associated with the activities they carry out on a daily basis; be conscious of the fact their work may create hazardous dust; and consider how this could affect their health, in some cases irreversibly.

“We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust or disturbing asbestos by working in different ways. We want to see construction firms encouraging their workers to firstly keep the dust down and wear the right mask and clothing.

“Ultimately, we want construction workers’ lungs to be protected from ill health, so they can go home healthy to their families and enjoy long careers in this important industry.”

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