Dust Kills – Health and Safety Executive Cracking Down on Construction Sites

Deborah Krelle
Author:
Deborah Krelle
Partner, Head of Industrial Disease
Date:
27/06/2022

This month, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have targeted construction sites across the country as part of a respiratory health initiative supported by the HSE’s Dust Kills campaign.

Throughout June, inspections of construction sites have had a specific focus on dust control. This has involved checking that employers and staff members know the risks of exposure to dust in the workplace and are putting the right protection measures in place.

As Asbestos and Asthma Lawyers, we see the devastating impact respiratory related illnesses have on our clients and their families. We also see a continued lack of awareness around the dangers posed by dust exposure in the workplace, including construction sites.

We welcome this initiative from the HSE and we hope it can shine a light on the importance of control measures being in place to protect employees from entirely preventable occupational diseases.

If you’ve been affected by a work-related respiratory illness, our Industrial Disease Solicitors could help you – get in touch to find out more.

Call us on 0808 239 0144 orrequest a callback

What are the Dangers of Breathing in Dust at Work?

Dust has been commonly termed a “silent killer” as it is often impossible to see the dangerous dust particles you could be breathing in on a regular basis.

People can go years or even decades without realising they’ve been at any risk, often only finding out when they are diagnosed with a respiratory disease. Some of the most common diagnoses include:

Each one of these diseases can cause permanent disability and even early death in the worst cases. The HSE has found that over 500 construction workers are dying from exposure to silica dust alone every year.

In addition to silica dust, the HSE is also particularly concerned about the presence of non-silica and wood dust on construction sites across the country. But there are measures your employer should be taking to protect you.  

"Far too often we are seeing a disregard for the health and safety of workers who are being exposed to dust in the workplace. With the implementation of simple policies for risk assessment, training and PPE, many exposures to substances such as asbestos, silica and wood dusts could be removed and the subsequent health risks avoided. It is therefore great to see the HSE’s Dust Kills Campaign in action, reaching out to employers and putting protective measures in place."

- Deborah Krelle, Partner, Head of Industrial Disease

How Should my Employer be Protecting me? 

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, your employer has a duty to protect you from the risks presented by hazardous construction dusts. This should involve:

  • Assessment – your employer should be assessing the risk to you for each task you carry out, the area you’re working in, the time it will take you to complete a job and how frequently you’re carrying out a certain task as this will all impact how much dust you’re breathing in.
  • Control measures – your employer is responsible for reducing dust where possible and controlling your exposure to it. You must be supplied with respiratory protective equipment that is adequate for the amount and type of dust you’re exposed to.
  • Regular review – even if your employer already has controls in place, these should be reviewed regularly to make sure they’re still effective. Work should be routinely checked for levels of dust and equipment should be maintained.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a respiratory illness and you believe this was a result of your employer’s negligence, you could be entitled to make an Industrial Disease claim. 

How can Simpson Millar Help?

If you’ve been affected by a respiratory disease, you might feel worried about proving your condition as a result of your employer’s negligence.

Prior to taking on your case, we’ll talk to you about your illness and how it could be linked to your work through a Free Claims Assessment. We’ll then be able to quickly tell you if we think you have a successful claim.

If we can take on your claim, we’ll conduct our own investigations relating to your working conditions, so you don’t need to worry about doing this yourself. We’ll approach your employer with our findings and they will have a chance to either admit or deny responsibility.

Using evidence collated from our investigations into your working history and medical reports, we’ll work to negotiate a fair settlement for you.

We can usually work on a No Win, No Fee basis, get in touch with us for more details.

Simpson Millar is proud to sponsor and work with the Primary Care Respiratory Society (PCRS).

FAQ's

Will my Industrial Disease Claim go to Court?

Most people find the idea of going to Court intimidating, but don’t let this put you off making a claim. In the majority of cases, Industrial Disease claims are settled out of Court.

If your employer acknowledges their responsibility, we can negotiate for a fair compensation settlement without having to go to Court. Even if the company denies liability, we will continue to negotiate to try and get your claim settled out of Court.

In the unlikely event that your case does go to Court, we will be at your side to support you through the process.

Can I be Dismissed for Making a Claim?

No, your employer can’t dismiss you for making an industrial disease claim. If you’ve been diagnosed with an industrial disease and you believe your employer didn’t do enough to protect you, you have every right to make a claim for compensation.   

We know claiming against an employer can be daunting and you might be worried that you could be treated differently as a result. But you’ll have the law on your side and your employer is not allowed to put you at any disadvantage because you’ve taken legal action.    

Our Employment Law Solicitors can help you if you feel you’re being ostracised or bullied at work as a result of making a claim for compensation.

What Happens to my Claim if I die?

If your illness is terminal, we will work to progress your claim as quickly as we can so that it is settled in your lifetime. But where this isn’t possible, your family will have the option to continue with your claim.

For free legal advice call our Industrial Disease Solicitors

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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.