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Are you making your employees ill?

It is a very worrying statistic that for every 1 accident related fatality in construction, approximately 100 construction employees die from a work related cancer.

In September and October 2014 the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) ran a campaign to improve health and safety on construction sites. HSE Inspectors were tasked with ensuring high-risk activities, particularly those affecting the health of workers, were being properly managed. These include working with harmful dusts such as silica and asbestos, and other hazardous substances. If unacceptable standards are found, Inspectors would take immediate enforcement action. The HSE is urging your industry to ‘think health’ as over 30,000 construction workers are made ill by their work every year. Philip White, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, said: “Industry has made much progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured in its activities, but for every fatal accident, approximately 100 construction workers die from a work-related cancer. During the recent health initiative, enforcement action was taken on one in five sites. Time and time again we find smaller contractors working on refurbishment and repair work failing to protect their workers through a lack of awareness and poor control of risks. This isn’t acceptable – it costs lives, and we will take strong and robust action where we find poor practice and risky behaviour. Through campaigns like this we aim to ensure contractors take all risks to their workers seriously, and not just focus on immediate safety implications. They need to put in place practical measures to keep workers both safe and well.”


Unacceptable conditions and dangerous practices were found at nearly half of the 1,748 repair and refurbishment sites visited by HSE inspectors, with 1 in 5 sites so poor, formal enforcement action was required. Many of the issues found could have been easily prevented with simple, straightforward management and planning.

We believe it is likely that the industry will see considerable focus from the HSE over the next 12 months, particularly around occupational health, which includes noise related injuries and silica dust exposure. Employers need to ensure they have their documentation in order with regard to risk assessments, the provision of PPE and monitoring of exposure and that they have taken every possible step to reduce exposure to the lowest possible level.

If you would like further guidance on any health and safety related topic, please contact Ken Stevens on 01302 341 344.

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