The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to make unannounced visits to construction sites across the country as part of a two-week drive targeting poor working conditions which are likely to lead to ill health.
Inspectors will be looking in particular at respiratory risks from dusts including silica materials; exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint; manual handling, noise and vibration.
For every fatal incident in the construction industry, it is estimated that a worker is at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work, according to the HSE. In 2012/13, 39 construction workers were killed. However, more than 500 deaths a year are due to silica exposure alone.
HSE chief inspector of construction, Heather Bryant, said: “The construction sector has made good progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured by its activities. We need to tackle where workers are unnecessarily being exposed to serious health risks, such as silica dust, which can have fatal or debilitating consequences.
“This initiative provides a chance to engage with these firms to help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe.