30 September, 2020
The initiative will run from Monday 5 to Friday 30 October and will focus on respiratory risks as well as COVID security
It is aimed at supporting the HSE's continuing strategy to improve the health of construction workers and to align with the wider government agenda to get people back to workplaces safely and so support economic recovery.
Their press release explains that their inspectors will be looking for evidence that both organisations and their workers know the risks of their work, plan properly and use the right control measures. They will take enforcement action if necessary, including if they find other areas of concern outside of respiratory risk.
The reason for the focus on respiratory risks is that many more workers die each year from diseases caused by or made worse by their work than are killed in construction accidents. Work related cancers are a particular concern with more than 3500 such deaths a year. This compares with 111 people being fatally injured at work during 2019/20.
Respiratory diseases can severely limit a person's quality of life and life expectancy and can result in significant claims for compensation, as well as HSE fines, if they are found to relate to the person's workplace. Every employer should have safe working practices in place to protect their employees from exposure to dust.
A recent example from earlier this year is the case against BSN Demolition who were fined for failing to remove asbestos containing materials prior to commencing work, leading to the risk of spreading asbestos fibres. The owner was fined and given a suspended prison sentence. Also, Newnham College Cambridge was fined for exposing employees and subcontractors to asbestos during a refurbishment of a flat in the college.
Forbes can assist you should the HSE take enforcement action against your organisation. It is better to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity to ensure the best possible outcome.