Building workers are around a hundred times more likely to die from a disease caused or exacerbated by their workplace than through a construction accident. That’s the shocking news the Health and Safety Executive is sharing during a month-long campaign to raise awareness of lung diseases caused by workplace dust.
The Dustbuster campaign will see HSE officials checking up on construction firms across the country to help protect workers from the dangers of dust caused by certain materials and working practices.
Using power tools, sweeping and working with products such as gypsum and wood are among activities which can be extremely harmful, without protection, say HSE experts.
The initiative is aimed at helping businesses find ways to minimise dust production.
Insulation specialist Actis says one change which could help is to switch from using traditional, solid insulation products which create dust when cut to those which generate no irritants or dust whatsoever.
Indeed, users of Actis’ flexible honeycomb insulation Hybris and insulating vapour control and breather membranes H Control Hybrid, Boost R Hybrid and Boost R Hybrid Roof say their cleanliness and complete absence of dust is precisely one of the reasons they use them.
Tony Byron-Cooper, site manager at PCR Projects’ recently completed 43-home development in Kent says he will be using Actis products on all his future developments.
“Most importantly, health and safety wise for our installers, it is light, easy to handle and there’s no dust to contend with,” he said.
Derek Dawson, MD at timber frame specialist Scandia-Hus said: “The Hybrid range doesn’t produce irritant and messy dust when installing.”
And Canterbury builder Simon Day said: “There are no fibres and no dust is created when you cut it, which means I didn’t need a respiratory mask or any special clothes.”
Avoiding dust has health as well as cleanliness implications, which is one of the reasons so many customers choose Actis. The fact that there’s no need for specialist PPE or masks and it only requires a saw or a hand operated cutter to trim it are some of the reasons builders return to Actis again and again.
The HSE campaign, which launched on Monday (October 5) focuses on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease and looks at the measures businesses can take to protect their workers’ lungs from certain materials.
HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, said: “Around a hundred times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents. “We want businesses and their workers to avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right mask and clothing.”