Construction firms across Scotland are to be targeted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as part of a month-long inspection initiative.
The crackdown will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease, looking at the control measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from construction dust including silica, asbestos and wood dust.
Firms have been warned that although the primary concern will be on health during the programme of inspections, if an inspector identifies any other areas of concern, they will take the necessary action to deal with them.
HSE is being supported by the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) and tier one industry contractors.
Hundreds of sites to be visited
Throughout October HCLG members will carry out more than 1,000 site visits.
HSE’s 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.
“Our inspection initiatives ensure that inspectors are able to speak to duty holders and visit sites to look at the kind of action businesses in the construction industry are taking right now to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs.
“These are mature health challenges that the industry ought to be managing effectively.”
Firms warned enforcement to be used if necessary
Inspectors will 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.
The initiative, which begins on October 4, will be supported by HSE’s WorkRight campaign, aimed at influencing employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.
More than 3,500 builders die each year from cancers related to their work, with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost.