Construction hazardous substances: Key points

Construction workers are exposed to many different types of hazardous substances such as dust, lead or cement. You need to be aware of the substances you are working with, how these could get into your body and what the potential health effects are. Below are some key points.


Hazardous substances come in a number of different forms:

Under certain conditions, a substance can exist in more than one form at the same time (eg paint spraying can produce fine mists of liquid droplets and also solvent vapour). Knowing the correct form(s) a hazardous substance takes is important for getting the right controls.

Exposure route

Hazardous substances can get into the body in a number of ways. There are three main routes:


Different substances can harm your health in different ways. Some of these occur more immediately, like dizziness, headaches and nausea from solvents or burns from cement. Others, such as lung diseases, can take much longer and sometimes many years to develop.

Construction is a high-risk industry for health issues. Hazardous substances cause many of these issues, particularly in relation to occupational cancers where the industry has the largest burden amongst the industrial sectors.

Updated 2022-11-01