It has come to our attention, through various HSE alerts and visits to our clients while working on site, that the HSE are rightly concerned about the management of health in the construction sector. More time is lost to the UK as an economy through ill health caused by work, than by accidents. It our experience that this area is generally poorly understood and contractors are poorly prepared.
The generation and management of health hazards such as dust, noise and hand arm vibration (to name but 3) are commonly given little attention, as contractors focus understandably on reducing the risk of death and serious injury.
So what can a contractor do?
When the inspector calls, there are certain actions that will serve as an immediate probation and possible prosecution – the most obvious being the dry cutting of blocks and kerbs which can result in a very debilitating disease known as silicosis. The contractor needs to understand the health risks on site, have considered eliminating them where they occur and where this is not possible, to have provided mitigation measures.
The inspector will also want to see that the contractor has taken into consideration the need for health surveillance, for the potentially exposed.