Part of a two-week drive to improve the working conditions at construction sites across the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been making unannounced visits.
In an attempt to reduce death, injury and poor health related to the construction industry, inspections are being randomly carried out to target poor working conditions on building sites.
Think Health is a two-week campaign began on 23 June 2014. Inspectors were looking at a number of health risks, including respiratory diseases caused by dust and silica materials, noise and vibration, manual handling and exposure to hazardous substances such as lead paint and cement.
Talking about the health and safety crackdown on construction sites in the UK, Heather Bryant, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction said:
“This initiative provides a chance to engage with these firms to help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe.”
“However, let me be clear – poor risk management and a lack of awareness of responsibilities is unacceptable. Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law” continued Heather Bryant.
On each site the inspectors visited, comprehensive checks were made to ensure there were acceptable standards in place for:
- Dust control including materials containing silica
- Other hazardous substances including lead in paint and cement
- Repetitive tasks and manual handling, such as awkward posture and twisting
- Noise control
- Use of vibrating tools
Noise on the construction site
The very nature of a construction site means it is a playground for high levels of noise. In 2005 the Control of Noise at Work Regulations were established, which requires employers to prevent or reduce the risks of health and safety from exposure to nose at work.
The HSE maps out the responsibilities the 2005 Regulations require employers to carry out to ensure the hearing of construction workers aren’t put at avoidable risk.
- The HSE advises employers to assess the risks put on employees due to noise
- To take action to reduce noise exposure
- If the noise cannot be reduced, employees should be provided with hearing protection
- Employees should be provided with training, information and instruction
- Heath surveillance should be carried out when there is a risk attached
- To ensure the legal limits are not exceeded
Construction noise monitoring
In order to assess the risks put on construction workers due to noise, construction noise monitoring should be carried out.
Robust and quality noise monitoring and measurement equipment should be used in order for employers to assess whether their building site is at risk.
For example, a Pulsar construction noise meter will be able to effectively assess noise at work and the potential for noise-induced hearing loss due to long-term exposure to noisy activities. A Pulsar noise meter will also be able to accurately quantify environmental noise, namely the potential to cause annoyance to surrounding areas or building during site work.
If you are a construction site employer or a health and safety manager of a construction site and you want to assess the risks of potential noise related problems your working environment might be putting workers under, take a look at the HSE’s comprehensive guide to noise risk assessment at work.