Time to clear the air
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) from Great Britain plays the role of national regulator and catalyst when it comes to preventing death, injuries and ill health in Great Britain’s workplaces. They make sector plans, health priority plans, perform health and safety inspection visits and provide information about a healthy and safe work environment. One of the healthy priority plans focuses on occupational lung disease. An important topic because occupational respiratory disease is currently estimated to result in approximately 12.000 deaths each year in Great Britain. It can occur in most industry sectors and is caused by a wide range of agents, from biological organisms to dusts, fumes and vapors. Asbestos and respirable crystalline silica (RCS) are particularly substantial contributors to the burden of lung disease. The campaign ‘Time to clear the air’ focuses on RCS for everyone working in the public and private sector, on highway construction, road maintenance, hard landscaping or general site work.
Setting and problem
Dust is not only a nuisance, it is also a serious health risk. It can cause respiratory problems, lung diseases and is carcinogenic. The campaign focuses especially on employers and employees who use cut off saws when cutting bricks and curbstones. When doing so, massive dust clouds can arise. In these dust clouds RCS appears and this causes danger to the person cutting and to those around him.
Besides bringing attention to the problem of RCS when cutting bricks and curbstones, with the campaign, the HSE want to promote the use of a water suppression saw. When using a saw with water suppression, the amount of dust is minimal. This prevents a worker and those around him from breathing in RCS.
The attention for RCS and the possible solution of using a water suppression saw will encourage more employers and employees to pay attention to this subject. On the long term, this will prevent occupational lung disease.