HSE launches new round of dust inspections

High risk sectors where workers are exposed to a range of different dusts that are linked to respiratory diseases are being targeted for inspection.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced on 11th June 2019, that the new round of dust control inspections will take place over the next few weeks.

HSE inspectors are set to concentrate on the following industries where occupational lung diseases and cancers are more common:

  • construction;
  • woodworking; and
  • food manufacturing.

HSE inspectors will look to see what measures are put in place to protect workers’ lungs from asbestos, silica, wood and flour dust. Businesses will need to show that they worked with employees to highlight the risks, plan work properly and put in place the right controls.

Chief medical officer, Professor Fishwick, says that exposure to asbestos, silica, flour and wood dust can have life changing consequences. He continues to add that work related lung diseases linked to past exposures are estimated to kill 12,000 workers across Great Britain each year, and in many cases the diseases take a long time to develop after exposure.

The overall aim is for the HSE to ensure employers and employees are aware of the risks associated with any tasks that produce dust, therefore, work needs to be planned correctly and use the right control measures such as extraction, use of masks and dampening dust particles.

In order to prepare for upcoming inspections, there are multiple guidance documents available on the HSE website and within the COSHH Regulations. These are available to employers and employees in order to keep the workforce healthy, to help understand the risks, and how to prevent or minimise exposure to dust.