The Health and Safety Authority have advised the CIF that they will be carrying a focused construction inspection campaign during the week commencing the 12th June 2017.

 

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This is part of the Authority’s ongoing campaign to raise health and safety standards in the construction sector and the CIF welcome this initiative. This type of activity is not new and has been part of the Health and Safety Authority’s programme of work for the past 5-6 years and is designed to put a focus on the sector by significantly increasing the number of inspections carried out that week – all inspectors, no matter what their specialism, will be targeting their inspections on construction projects.

The focus in this upcoming campaign will be Occupational Health in the construction sector – this is the poor relation of the Health and Safety science – the industry tends to be much better at managing the safety elements than the health elements. This being said, the construction industry is the only industrial sector with a dedicated Health Trust in the form of Construction Workers Health Trust ( see www.cwht.ie).

Many members will be aware of, and use the services of the health screening unit. This is a very successful service which provide one to one health screening for construction workers and from time to time specifically targets issues that are known to impact on this demographic – e.g. colon cancer / macular degeneration. Those of you who do not know of / do not use the service would be well advised to enquire as to how you can. It should be noted that the funding for this service is under pressure as they were a victim of the fall of the Registered Employment Agreement (REA) in 2013 – if the industry wants such a service to survive we will have to support it – financially.

Back to the issue at hand – the upcoming HSA Inspection Campaign – Inspectors will focus in on “Carcinogens in the construction sector” – i.e. those activities that can cause cancer – usually that is exposure to a substance or in the case of a current joint CIF / Irish Cancer Society  campaign, related to exposure to the suns rays and skin cancer.

Of specific interest to  Inspectors will be how contractors manage dust control – hopefully everyone in the industry is aware of the health issues related to the exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica or RCS – follow this link (http://www.breathefreely.org.uk/breathefreelyconstruction.html) to useful information on the subject. Issues Inspectors will be seeking to understand is ;

  • How do you manage the dust generation ?
  • What PPE do you use ?
  • How do you protect third parties from exposure ?
  • How do you clean up – i.e. do you “ban the broom”?

Readers should already know that there is a move at European level to add RCS to the Carcinogens Directive – this is likely to happen in 2017 so this issue is going to become the new ”smoking ban” for the sector.

Exposure to wood dust will also be raised and there is good guidance at the following location -http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Chemical_and_Hazardous_Substances/Wood%20working%20Information%20Sheet.pdf

Other focus points for Inspectors will be Asbestos and awareness / management of same – management of this hazard has been high profile for some time now (decades) so I’ve no doubt if there is asbestos on a project it is managed in accordance with the appropriate regulations.

Will RCS be managed in the future with the same level of priority as asbestos is now?

Finally, given the season we have (summer for those of you confused), there will be a focus on the level of awareness in the sector to the damage that can be caused by exposure to harmful UV rays. Recently, CIF and the Irish Cancer Society joined forces to raise awareness of this issue – there are 10,000 cases of skin cancer a year in Ireland and those who work outdoors are most at risk.

CIF have published a short guide (see below) to the management of exposure and maybe a good activity during this week would be to run a short toolbox talk on the topic – we have more information if you need it!

So, put next week into your diary and be prepared for a visit from your local HSA Inspector.

 

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