Construction hazardous substances: Harmful micro-organisms

Construction workers can be exposed to a range of harmful micro-organisms such as bacteria ,viruses and fungi. These pages tell you how to control these risks and why.

What you must do

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations says you must protect against the risks from hazardous solvents. Follow the Assess, Control and Review model. Pay particular attention to:


Identify and assess: Construction workers can be exposed to a variety of micro-organisms. The level of risk depends on the type of micro-organism and the work being done. Identify those situations where significant micro-organism risks are likely to be present. Pay particular attention to specific tasks during groundwork, demolition or refurbishment.


Prevent: Think about limiting the risks before work starts.

Control: Follow the general controls below where a risk remains. You may need additional controls for specific tasks.

Train: Workers need to be aware of the micro-organisms they may be exposed to and how to use the controls properly. They should also be made aware of the relevant signs / symptoms associated with any of these micro-organisms and how to report these to managers / their General Practitioner.


Supervise: Ensure that controls such as work methods, PPE and welfare are appropriate, effective and used by the workers.

Monitor: Health Surveillance will not normally be required. Any vaccinations should be discussed in conjunction with an occupational health provider / General Practitioner where appropriate.

What you should know

Construction workers may be at greater risk from micro-organisms when doing some specific tasks or working on particular sites. Information on these risks and how to control them can be found below:

Updated 2021-10-07