Watchdog begins unnannounced inspections on poor working conditions, which are a bigger killer of construction workers than accidents

HSE inspectors will be making unannounced visits to construction sites across the country over the next two weeks, focusing on conditions likely to cause ill health.

For every fatal accident in the construction industry the watchdog estimates a worker is at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work.

Inspectors will be looking in particular at respiratory risks from dusts including silica materials; exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint; noise and vibration.

In 2012/13, 39 construction workers were killed, compared to more than 500 deaths a year due to silica exposure alone.

HSE chief inspector of construction, Heather Bryant, said: “The construction sector has made good progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured by its activities. We need to tackle where workers are unnecessarily being exposed to serious health risks, such as silica dust, which can have fatal or debilitating consequences.

“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.”

Further information about the Initiative and safe-working in construction can be found online at: