HSE to target dust inspections in the workplace

It has been announced this week that the HSE will be commencing a program of inspections focusing on controlling dust in the workplace. Inspectors will be concentrating on industries where occupational lung disease and some cancers are more common. This includes woodworking (joinery), construction sites and the food manufacturing industry.

Inspectors will be visiting premises and construction sites to see what controls and measures are in place to protect workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica, wood dust and flour dust.

They will specifically be looking for evidence that businesses and their workers know the risks, have planed their work and are using the right controls. Companies found to be in breach of the regulations face enforcement action and Fee For Intervention (FFI); now £154 per hour.

HSE chief medical officer David Fishwick said: “Exposure to asbestos, silica, wood dust, flour and other dust can have life-changing consequences. Each year work-related lung diseases linked to past exposures are estimated to kill 12,000 workers across Great Britain. In many cases these diseases take a long time to develop after exposure, so the damage done may not be immediately obvious. Others, such as occupational asthma and acute silicosis, can occur more quickly.”

“These conditions can and do have a significant impact on both the individuals affected and those closest to them, so it is imperative that workers take the necessary precautions to protect their lungs.”

HSE chief inspector of construction Sarah Jardine added:  “We are carrying out this series of inspections to ensure businesses are fulfilling their legal duties to protect workers from harm. This includes controlling the levels of dust in workplaces.

“We want to ensure employers and their workers are aware of the risks associated with any task that produces dust. Such work needs to be properly planned and use the right controls, such as water suppression, extraction and masks.

“The bottom line is we want everyone, workers and their employers, to be protected from harm and ill health so they can go home healthy to their families.”

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