Following the launch of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) ‘DustBuster’ campaign, aimed at tackling occupational lung disease caused by construction dust and other hazardous substances, Mary Cameron, occupational hygiene team leader at SOCOTEC, takes a closer look at the initiative and how you can ensure compliance.
What is the HSE's 'DustBuster' initiative?
HSE inspectors will be visiting construction sites throughout October 2018 in an initiative to assess compliance with workplace health regulations and the control measures in place to protect workers’ health, with a focus on preventing lung disease.
The HSE warns that where poor workplace health standards are found on site, enforcement actions will be taken. Hazardous substances commonly found on construction sites include asbestos, silica, and wood dust. These are well known as being highly hazardous to health with long latency periods. Other hazardous substances found on construction sites may include welding fume, sprayed paint, solvent vapours, engine exhausts and micro-organisms. It is important that construction site managers and employees understand the risks involved in their work, and that this is undertaken in a way which prevents or minimises exposure to hazardous substances, by applying adequate control measures.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 (as amended) defines adequate control and what is required by employers to ensure workers’ health protection. The legislation requires every employer to assess the risk to health created by working with hazardous substances, and then prevent and/or control exposure to hazardous substances, maintain, examine, and test those control measures, and carry out exposure monitoring and health surveillance (if deemed necessary by the risk assessment).
How can you prepare?
• Applying leadership and commitment
• Undertaking a risk assessment
• Ensuring that workers are competent and trained
• Planning and designing processes to eliminate or minimise risk to health
• Adopting the most effective and appropriate exposure controls
• Establishing a management programme to ensure that the effectiveness of controls are maintained
• Investigating any potential workplace ill health via exposure monitoring and health surveillance.
How can SOCOTEC help you comply?
The pictures shown below are not uncommon:
A construction worker cutting into concrete flooring A construction worker drilling into stone wall
Many processes on construction sites generate high levels of contaminant clouds: rotatory tools, hand tools, blasters, needle guns, dry sweeping, mobile plant engines, and aerosol tools. Hazardous substances are also found in the construction materials themselves and waste products, including wood, insulation, concrete, cement, and bricks. Our occupational hygienists can assist in selecting the best control measures for each process such as water damp down, vacuum extraction, alternative working methods, and low dust generating tools. Our understanding in the risks involved in a wide variety of workplace activities makes us highly capable to recommend effective exposure prevention and control measures.
Find out more about our occupational hygiene services here
Find out more about the HSE DustBuster campaign here
More information is available on the Breathe Freely website including a construction managers toolkit, toolbox talks, visual standards, site check lists and a COSHH guide.