Amongst construction workers there is a high incidence of respiratory problems, with the main cause being exposure to dusts and respirable crystalline silica (RCS) resulting in silicosis. Other prevalent respiratory diseases amongst construction workers are COPD and asthma.
The key activities where exposures occur include:
- stone masonry/stone floor laying
- tunnelling/demolition and chasing out/re-pointing.
Partnership groups have been formed to design and implement initiatives to tackle RCS exposure. These groups are composed of trade associations, professional organisations, suppliers and vocational training organisations that represent the cross section of industries where risks from exposure to silica are present. Examples of interventions that these groups have undertaken include:
- Leaflets outlining the dangers of dust.
- Events for employers design to raise awareness of risks and control methods.
- Developing standards for on-tool extraction
- Undertaking research projects to better understand and reduce RCS exposure.
By registering, information on these and other initiatives is available on the Occupational Disease Community site.
Specific guidance for employers on health risks in construction is available on the construction web pages.