HSE will be carrying out a “clampdown” on ‘health as well as safety’ as poor standards and unsafe work on Britain’s building sites are targeted as part of a nationwide drive by the regulator.

From 22 September 2014, in a month-long initiative, HSE Construction Division inspectors will carry out unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway.

The visits and intended to ensure high-risk activities particularly those affecting the health of workers, are being properly managed. These include working with harmful dusts such as silica and asbestos, and other hazardous substances.

HSE inspectors will check that:

  • Construction dust – exposure to silica and other construction dust is being controlled;
  • Asbestos awareness – workers are aware of where they may find asbestos and what to do;
  • Other health risks – noise, vibration, manual handling, hazardous substances are managed;
  • Proper planning – jobs involving work at height have been identified and precautions planned;
  • Safe equipment – is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly;
  • Organised sites – to avoid trips and falls and welfare facilities which are adequate.

If unacceptable standards are found Inspectors will take immediate enforcement action.

HSE has published the Guidance to Inspectors on inspecting and enforcing on construction dust risks where inadequate standards of control are found.

One hundred health related deaths for each fatal accident

HSE is urging industry to ‘think health’ as over 30,000 construction workers are made ill by their work every year.

Philip White, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, said:

 “Industry has made much progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured in its activities, but for every fatal accident, approximately 100 construction workers die from a work-related cancer

During the recent health initiative, enforcement action was taken on one in six sites. Time and again we find smaller contractors working on refurbishment and repair work failing to protect their workers through a lack of awareness and poor control of risks.

This isn’t acceptable – it costs lives, and we will take strong and robust action where we find poor practice and risky behaviour.

Through campaigns like this we aim to ensure contractors take all risks to their workers seriously, and not just focus on immediate safety implications. They need to put in place practical measures to keep”

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