Dust suppression alert

The dust suppression project which aims to change the working practices of the paving trade by gentle persuasion takes a firmer line from this month.

The stakeholder group responsible for developing the project has been in existence for a little over two years, and the new guidelines were officially launched by Lord MacKenzie in May of last year, so the HSE have deemed that its now time to show that this is not something that is just going to fade away if contractors ignore it.

Clear the air PDF Click here to download a PDF of the leaflet shown above

So, from the beginning of this April, and for the following 12 months through to the end of March 2010, HSE Inspectors have been told to pay particular attention to any cutting of paving that might be taking place on the sites they visit, or open-to-view sites they might pass during their working day, which means almost any streetworks project, driveway or development fronting a public highway.

Inspectors can and will issue improvement notices instructing operatives and supervisors to amend their working practices to comply with the new guidelines which require the dust from cutting to be suppressed, most commonly by using a water attachment to the cut-off saw. In cases where there guidance has been wilfully ignored or the inspector has a serious concern regarding working practices, a prohibition notice could be issued, rendering it a criminal offence to continue to work without complying to the guidelines.

While Health and Safety is often regarded as an additional interfering burden by some in this industry, this is a situation where operatives are putting their long term health at serious risk, and it deserves to be treated as a H&S priority for all paving contractors. Look at how many miners are suffering with emphysema and other chest conditions after exposure to dust in the collieries: they worked for a nationalised industry and have some redress, but most paving contractors are self-employed, so have no-one other than themselves to blame if and when their lungs pack up on them.

cut-off saw

Dust is reckoned to be responsible for killing 500 construction workers each year. That's 10 operatives each week, 2 lads per day dying because they and/or their workmates couldn't be bothered to use dust masks and attach a water hose to the cut-off saw.

Kill the dust, not yourself! Don't say you weren't warned!

This video along with a supporting "Resource Kit" of images and useful documents, as well as the leaflet featured above are available free of charge from the HSE.

Click here to email the project co-ordinator and order your copy today.

Learn more about the health risks in the construction industry and how they can be managed at the HSE website