Building firms told they must do more to protect staff from asbestos dangers

Construction firms have been warned they must do more to prevent workers from being exposed to asbestos and other dangers.

13 November 2014

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued the stark warning after its month-long inspection of building sites found two out of five did not provide adequate protection for staff.

It comes just days after the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) launched its No Time To Lose campaign to cut the number of deaths caused by exposure to carcinogens in the workplace, including asbestos.

While the HSE report said failure to provide basic safety measures for people working at height was the most common complaint, asbestos exposure also featured on the list of serious failures.

IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said the report by the HSE helps demonstrate why the organisation’s No Time To Lose campaign is absolutely vital.

He said: “This report confirms that the serious problem of asbestos exposure is still very real.

“Our campaign is calling for a concerted effort to educate and protect workers from work-related cancer and premature death caused by such exposures.

“Action today will save lives tomorrow. Construction workers suffer almost half of all work-related cancer deaths in Britain, due to past exposures to substances such as asbestos and silica – we must put a stop to this.”

The HSE report focused on 1,748 repair and refurbishment sites visited by its inspectors, with one in 5 sites so poor that formal enforcement action was required.

HSE Chief of Construction Philip White said: “These results show that whilst the majority of employers in the refurbishment sector are getting it right, a significant part of the industry is seriously failing its workers.

“We also find health is often overlooked as its implications are not immediately visible, however the effects of uncontrolled exposure to deadly dusts such as asbestos and silica can be irreversible.

“We urge industry to ensure the most basic of measures such as use of protective equipment and dust suppression methods are put in place to help protect the future health of workers.”

Contact Tim Walsh, IOSH Media Manager

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+44 (0)116 257 3252
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