A national targeted inspection focusing on health risks for construction workers which has just been completed by the HSE has resulted in enforcement action being taken at one in six of hundreds of sites visited.
During the two-week period of proactive inspections, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) demanded improvements, and in some cases put an immediate stop to work activities, where they fell short of expected standards.
One area the Inspectors focused on was the significant health issue of respiratory risks from dusts containing silica materials etc.
The HSE press release following these inspections, states that “a total of 560 sites were visited and enforcement notices were served at 85 of them. Thirteen Prohibition Notices were served and 107 Improvement Notices. A total of 239 health-related Notices of Contravention were served at 201 of the sites.”
Based on feedback from a selection of the major construction companies one of the most common reasons for Notices of Contravention was failures by contractors to undertake fit testing of face masks (RPE) in accordance with Legislative requirements as detailed in Operational Circular OC282/28 and as a result they are now requiring evidence of fit testing where RPE is used on site.
This Operational Circular states, that “RPE fit testing should be conducted by a competent person. Competence can be demonstrated through achieving accreditation under the ‘Fit2Fit RPE Fit Test Providers Accreditation Scheme’. This scheme is not compulsory and employers are free to take other action to comply with the law. “
Under the Action by Inspectors section The OC states that “issues are concerned with the fit testing of tight-fitting facepieces, and whilst each case should be judged on its own merits, inspectors are advised to consider formal enforcement actions where the RPE is considered to be unsuitable which include the following situations: (obviously the suitability must be weighed against the risks involved):
1. Where persons are wearing tight-fitting facepieces (this definition includes disposable face masks as well as half & full face masks) and have not undergone and passed an appropriate fit test;
2. Where fit test results are not readily available;
3. Where the results show that a particular mask did not fit the wearer and the wearer is continuing to use that type and size of facemask. Steps should have been taken to select a more appropriate facepiece and/or carry out retraining.”
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