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HSE to inspect construction firms with focus on Covid-19 and respiratory risk

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to carry out a month-long inspection initiative looking at respiratory risks and occupational lung disease in the construction sector.

The inspection programme, which will start on 5 October, will also examine whether firms are protecting their workers from the risk of coronavirus and if workplaces are Covid-secure.

While the focus of the inspections will be on respiratory risk, inspectors will be able to take enforcement action if they identify other areas of concern, including whether workers are protected from Covid-19. The HSE identified “Covid-security” as a critical health risk, and said one of the reasons for the inspection programme was to align with the wider government agenda to get people back to workplaces safely and support economic recovery.

The health-focused initiative is the fourth of its kind with a focus on what measures construction firm are using to protect workers from the likes of asbestos, silica and wood dust. At the same time, the HSE is launching a campaign aimed at influencing employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice.

The 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 killed in construction accidents each year. According to the HSE, over 3,500 construction workers die every year from work-related cancer while thousands of others lose working days due to illness.

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