Dust is the target in latest HSE inspection campaign
In the coming weeks, organisations should be prepared for the HSE’s latest inspection regime—dust control. Specifically, inspectors will be making surprise visits to establishments across Great Britian and assessing the measures that have been put in place to protect employees’ lungs from asbestos, silica, wood and flour dust.
The HSE revealed in a recent announcement that the inspections will focus on industries such as construction, woodworking and manufacturing, where dust-related risks run high. And although this risk is small in appearance, long-term exposure to dust can cause significant health concerns, including:
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
A wide range of tasks (eg cutting, sanding, sweeping or grinding) can produce high levels of dust within your workplace. What’s more, The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 requires organisations to provide reasonable protection to workers who are exposed to dust on-site. Consider the following guidance to control dust-related risks in your organisation and prepare for the HSE’s latest inspection campaign.
- Assess methods for stopping or reducing the amount of dust that workplace activities generate. This could entail using less powerful tools that produce less dust or properly sized building materials that require less cutting.
- Limit the amount of dust that enters the air during work activities by either using a water suppression method to damp down dust clouds or adding a local exhaust ventilation system to dust-producing tools. Offer respiratory protective equipment to employees who are exposed to dust on-site.
- Implement other controls such as limiting the number of employees near dust-related work, enclosing the work to prevent dust from escaping and training employees on dust-related risks. Regularly review controls to ensure they are effective.
The HSE emphasised that failed inspections will result in necessary enforcements to make sure workers are properly protected. For more information on controlling workplace dust exposure, click here. Further digital resources to support the HSE’s #DustBuster and #WorkRight campaigns are located here.