War Against Air Pollution
18 August 2014
Prevention and control of dust on worksites is the latest campaign in Costain’s continuing efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of the workforce.
“It’s one of the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) priority areas at the moment,” said Health & Wellbeing Manager, Veronica Robins. “The HSE has estimated that over 500 construction workers die from exposure to silica dust every year, so it’s high risk.”
For example, inhaling silica dust when drilling or cutting products such as concrete and mortar can lead to lung diseases including silicosis, an inflammation and scarring of the lungs. Silica dust particles are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye and dust builds up in the lungs gradually over time. Unfortunately by the time symptoms are noticed, the damage has often been done and can be life changing.
New guidance in ‘The Costain Way’ format has been developed detailing how to prevent and control exposure to dust. “We’ll be launching that on 1 September,” said Veronica.
The anti-dust campaign will have three key themes.
“We will be promoting on-tool extraction,” said Veronica. “This is a type of local exhaust ventilation system which fits directly onto the tool and prevents dust getting into the atmosphere in the first place, as prevention is always better than the cure.
“Secondly, we will be reinforcing the requirement for all workers wearing tight fitting protective masks to be ‘face fit tested’, which is a means of assessing how well a mask seals to a face. Workers need to be clean shaven in order to get a good seal and avoid leaks.” This is extremely important, as even a small amount of stubble can be enough to prevent a perfect seal being formed around the mask.
“Finally, we’re going to try to ‘Lose the Broom’ wherever possible. Dry sweeping creates huge amounts of dust, particularly indoors. We will be encouraging the use of vacuum cleaners. If brooms have to be used, then the material should be damped down first.
“The anti-dust campaign is being supported by Speedy, our equipment supplier, which will be offering demonstrations and free trials of suitable equipment, such as vacuum sweepers and on tool-extraction systems, during the campaign.”
The anti-dust campaign will last for one month from 1 September, said Veronica, who has produced supporting tools for the campaign including Toolbox Talks. Health champions on each site will be called upon to work with SHE advisors to get the anti-dust message across to the workforce.
Costain Communications Department