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Construction industry under the Health and Safety spotlight

Although the HSE had carried out unannounced inspections before, this was the first time that it had focused specifically on occupational health risks, such as the control of dust and other hazardous substances. Previously, it had concentrated only on safety risks, for example, working at height.
The regulator has also drawn up guidance for ensuring that adequate standards of control are enforced for construction dust, which has respiratory risks.
The new guidance is a step in the right direction as it focuses on the prevention and management of health risks, particularly in the construction industry.
The latest health and safety statistics [link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/construction/index.htm] on the industry makes for sombre reading:
•    Over 40% of the occupational cancer deaths and cancer registrations were from the construction industry•    Although the construction industry consists of only 5% of UK employees, it accounted for 31% of fatal injuries to employees and 10% of reported major/specified injuries•    Injuries and new cases of ill health resulting largely from current working conditions in workers in construction cost society over £1.1 billion a year.
With the HSE previously being criticised for its ‘nascent’ approach to occupational health risks, its unannounced inspections and guidance issued on construction dust – which it calls a “priority” – is evidence of the organisation’s ongoing commitment to safety and health issues at work.
It now remains for employers to take this forward in 2015, particularly with additional guidance on construction safety likely around April this year. The statistics on the number of injuries in the construction industry continue to be a cause for concern. Often, the victim’s initial reaction is “not to make a fuss”, as they are concerned about the impact on their jobs. At Atherton Godfrey, we have been helping construction workers with their claims for compensation for over 25 years. If you would like help with yours, give us a call, in full confidence, on 01302 320621 or email info@athertongodfrey.co.uk

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