For two weeks starting on October 21st, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is carrying out inspections on construction sites around the country. The initiative is part of a focused effort to reduce the rate of injury and death in the building sector.
2018 workplace safety statistics
Five people died in construction-related activity in 2018, and a further 767 non-fatal incidents were reported to the HSA. So far this year, six deaths have been reported.
The inspection blitz is targeting sites across the country over the next two weeks. There will be a particular focus on hazards such as silica dust and asbestos generated by refurbishment and demolition work.
Research shows construction workers are particularly exposed to hazardous substances. For example, inhaling dust or fumes that can lead to a range of negative health implications from minor irritation to cancer.
European Week for Safety and Health at Work
The inspections take place against the backdrop of European Week for Safety and Health at Work and Construction Safety Week 2019. The theme for the European initiative is ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances’.
The Irish inspection campaign will target construction-related issues such as working at heights and manual handling risks. These are issues that can lead to the onset of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) including back injury.
Manual handling incidents represented more than a quarter of all non-fatal construction incidents last year.
Issues inspectors will be looking for
HSA inspectors inspecting construction sites will be checking for:
- Exposure to silica dust, which can occur anywhere that concrete, stone or sand-based materials are being used.
- Presence of asbestos.
- Workers involved in manual handling activities such as stone cladding units, glazing and other materials.
During Construction Safety Week last year, the HSA carried out 362 site inspections and enforcement action was taken in 37 cases.
The campaign highlighted the need for risk assessments for hazardous dusts and chemicals. Furthermore, it emphasised the requirement for Safety Data Sheets to be available on site.
To avoid any negative findings, all employers need to put tailored health & safety policies in place that include the unique requirements of their workers.
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