Construction site spot checks by HSE reveal asbestos failings

The Health and Safety Executive is urging the construction industry to improve its health and safety measures after spot checks revealed that 40% of construction sites were failing to protect their workers and in particular failing to control exposure to harmful dusts such as asbestos.

Over 1700 sites were randomly inspected and 1 in 5 were found to have unacceptable conditions and dangerous practices putting their workers at serious risk of developing subsequent health issues due to the improper management of asbestos, failure to control exposure to harmful dusts, noise and vibration.

Exposure to asbestos dust and fibres can lead to the development of asbestos related lung diseases such as pleural thickeningasbestosis, asbestos induced lung cancer and mesothelioma, a fatal cancer specifically linked to asbestos exposure.

The HSE’s Chief of Construction, Philip White said:

“We find that health is often overlooked as its implications are not immediately visible, however the effects of uncontrolled exposure to deadly dusts such as asbestos and silica can be irreversible. We urge industry to ensure the most basic of measures such as use of protective equipment and dust suppression methods are put in place to help protect the future health of workers.

We need to continue to educate industry through initiatives like this and encourage a change in behaviour on small projects where over half the industry’s fatal injuries still occur and many workers become seriously ill.”