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Industry partnership emphasises dust at work danger

A number of industry bodies and associations are working together to emphasise the dangers of dust within the construction industry and other sectors.

Initially formed two years ago, it has continued to gain members and supporters, growing to the point where it wishes to publicise its message more widely.

Its list of members range from the Health and Safety Executive, Construction Industry Council, CITB, and Electrical Contractors Association to Hire Association Europe and European Power Tool Association, also including the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Unite the Union and many others.

An overview of the partnership’s members, its aims and helpful information can be found at www.citb.co.uk/cdp.

The Construction Dust Partnership aims to deliver a joined-up message to emphasise the need for safe working practices in all areas.

The CDP states that the main issue in construction is that of preventing exposure to silica dust, along with wood, gypsum and other types, which can cause a number of potentially fatal lung diseases, some of which may not appear for 20 years or so.

Around 500 workers die of dust-related illnesses each year, which the CDP aims to reduce through raising awareness.

It is using a number of different approaches to educate workers and employers on the dangers, including toolbox talks, roadshows and web-based information.

A positive reaction has been recorded from the majority of those contacted to date, with the CPD reporting that workers are far more likely to adopt safe working procedures, such as the wearing of masks, when they realise the potential consequences.

Further emphasis has also been placed on the benefits that working safely with dust can bring, including improved productivity.

The use of tools with dust filters avoids on-site delays, for example, as workers do not have to wait for the air to clear before carrying out tasks in the vicinity.

Although dust filters raise the price of cutting tools, these have been shown to both improve their application and prolong the life of equipment, making them more cost-effective over time.

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.

“Just as importantly, 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.”