Construction in HSE spotlight

Poor working conditions on building sites that are likely to lead to ill health have been targeted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE launched a two-week campaign on 23 June 2014, during which it made unannounced visits to construction sites across the country. Inspectors looked at issues including respiratory risks from dusts, including silica materials, exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint, manual handling, noise and vibration.

According to the HSE, 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. In 2012-13, 39 construction workers were killed but more than 500 deaths a year are due to silica exposure alone.

Heath Bryant, the HSE’s chief inspector of construction, 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”.

“Poor risk management and a lack of awareness of responsibilities are unacceptable. Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law”.

The HSE’s focus on the construction sector further underlines the importance of employers taking the steps required by law to protect the health and safety of employees, sub-contractors, visitors and members of the public.

Employers seeking clarification or guidance on their health and safety responsibilities or facing prosecution can find out more by contacting Palmershealth and safety specialists Lara Murray and Jeremy Sirrell.