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HSE Construction Health Inspection Initiative

Health and safety inspectors across Great Britain will be targeting construction firms to check that their health standards are up to scratch during a month-long inspection initiative, which starts on Monday 5 October 2020.

What is the HSE Construction Health Inspection Initiative?

This is the fourth health-focused initiative of its kind undertaken by the HSE. As with previous inspections, there will be a focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease; looking at the measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica and wood dust.

While the primary focus will be on health during this programme of inspections, if a HSE inspector identifies any other areas of concern, they will be obliged to take the necessary enforcement action to deal with them. This will include making sure that businesses are doing all they can to protect their workers from the risk of coronavirus and make workplaces COVID-secure.

Inspectors will also be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.

Dustbuster campaign

The construction initiative will be supported by HSE’s ‘Dustbuster’ campaign, aimed to influence employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health. Some useful guidance documents for download are available here.

You should look at ways of limiting the amount of dust you could make before you start work. Some really simple actions for you to consider are detailed below:

  • use the right size of building materials so less cutting or preparation is needed
  • use a less powerful tool – eg a block splitter can sometime be used instead of a cut-off saw
  • using a different method of work altogether – eg using a nail gun to direct fasten cable trays instead of drilling holes first

 

Even if you can stop some of the dust this way you may need to do other work that could still produce high amounts of dust. In these cases the most important thing is to stop the dust getting into the air.

 

There are two main ways of doing this which both give very good results:

  • water – water damps down dust clouds. However, it needs to be used correctly. This means enough water for the whole time that the work is being done. Just wetting an area of ground before cutting does not work.
  • vacuum extraction – specially designed tools can be fitted with an industrial vacuum unit that sucks the dust away as it is being created and stores it until.

Respiratory equipment and Face Fit testing

Finally you may wish to consider the use of respiratory protective equipment (a mask) that provides the correct level of protection for the activity being undertaken. Don’t forget if you provide RPE to your workers you must also provide ‘face fit testing’ to assess its suitability for the worker, handing out masks as an answer to dust is a poor solution at the best of times but without face fit testing it is completely pointless.

 

So, in simple terms lets continue to protect the health of our workers and hopefully you won’t find yourself on the receiving end of an HSE Fee for Intervention (FFI) Notice.

 

 

Support with site inspections

If you would like an informal discussion as to how we can help your business with site inspections, being covid-secure or face fit testing then please get in touch.

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