Data analysis of 16,000 site inspections over the last 12 months concluded that dust breaches made up 41% of ‘occupational health’ infringements recorded on UK building sites.
The second highest breach logged was PPE (25%) followed by COSHH (13%), vibration (7%) and noise (7%).
BSG’s figures are published during a month-long Health & Safey Executive (HSE) inspection blitz focusing on dust and respiratory hazards on construction sites. [See our previous report here.]
More than 3,500 builders die each year from cancer related to their work, with thousands more cases of ill health and working days lost. HSE chief inspector of construction Sarah Jardine said: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.”
BSG technical support manager Andy Harper said: “Dust particles can be 100 times smaller than a grain of sand. You don’t need to see them to breathe them in. Once in your lungs, dust will start causing damage. Exposure to dust can lead to severe breathing difficulties and lung diseases that can ruin lives and cause an early death. Construction workers have a high risk of developing these diseases because many common construction tasks can create high dust levels. It can take years before the damage is visible and by then it can be too late.”
He continued: “Construction dust is regulated most effectively when there are control methods and processes in place to minimise how much dust is generated during operations. Some sites also require extraction, suppression, and ventilation procedures to keep dust at safe levels. Dust prevention measures have been widely published in industry guidance and should be considered for all jobs which are potentially harmful.”