Never forget the dangers of construction

A few years ago I was talking to an architect, and he said something along the lines of ‘I never forget my responsibility when I design a building, that people coud die building it.’ it is true – construction is still a dangerous trade. It is getting better. I looked recently at some construction photos from around 40 years ago and they were full of men (only men) with no hard hats and their shirts off. Nowadays there is at least an effort to make it a safer trade, particularly by the larger contractors. But there are still too many deaths and injuries.

A notice that dropped into my inbox today reminded me that having something large hit you, or falling off a building, are not the only risks. It is about a seminar to be run by the British Safety Council called Sharing Good Practice and it will have a particular focus on preventing lung disease. This is not about encouraging people to give up smoking, but about the hazards that they face on construction sites.

Occupational hygienist Kelvin Williams says, It’s no secret that construction workers are at high risk of contracting lung disease from the work that they do. In 2015, approximately 3,500 will die from occupational cancer caused by past exposure to asbestos, another 500 will die from exposure to silica dust and in addition, 5,500 new cases of occupational cancer will be reported.’

BOHS, the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection (no I don’t know where the initials come from either) has launched a campaign called Breathe Freely, aimed at reducing exposure to hazards. Airborne dust doesn’t kill you as fast as having a load drop on your head, but the risks are still real – and need addressing. 

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