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BUREAU VERITAS BACKS THE HSE IN ITS DRIVE TO IMPROVE RESPIRITORY HEALTH IN THE CONSTRUCTION

Bureau Veritas hails month-long initiative as ‘crucial’ in turning the tide on improving overall health in the construction industry  Leading CDM and Occupational Hygiene authority urges industry to eliminate risks associated with dust, starting at the design phase of development    Leading Construction Design and Management (CDM) and Occupational Hygiene authority, Bureau Veritas, has praised the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for

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BDC 317 : Jun 2024

COSHH

BUREAU VERITAS BACKS THE HSE IN ITS DRIVE TO IMPROVE RESPIRITORY HEALTH IN THE CONSTRUCTION

Bureau Veritas hails month-long initiative as ‘crucial’ in turning the tide on improving overall health in the construction industry  Leading CDM and Occupational Hygiene authority urges industry to eliminate risks associated with dust, starting at the design phase of development    Leading Construction Design and Management (CDM) and Occupational Hygiene authority, Bureau Veritas, has praised the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for highlighting the respiratory risks associated with exposure to construction dust as part of its month-long inspection initiative.  Launched last week, the initiative will see HSE inspectors across the UK target construction firms to check the status of their health and safety standards, looking at the control measures businesses have in place to protect their workers from exposure to construction dust, including silica, asbestos and wood dust.   Hailing the focus as a ‘crucial requirement’ in turning the tide on improving overall health in the construction industry, Bureau Veritas – a global expert in managing exposure risks to workers by recognising, evaluating and controlling hygiene hazards in the workplace – is urging construction firms to take an up-front approach to eliminating the risks associated with dust, starting at the design phase of development.   Fran Watkins-White, Head of CDM Services at Bureau Veritas, said: “The focus on construction workers’ respiratory health as part of the HSE’s inspection initiative is a necessary step in improving practices across the construction industry when it comes to protecting workers’ health. We’ve seen the industry make great strides in improving conditions that place workers at risk from exposure to dust, but there is much more to be done in terms of eliminating that risk through the design phase on projects and good construction planning – particularly when considering modern advances in construction technology.”  Research shows that each year more than 3,500 builders die from cancers related to their work, with thousands more cases of ill-health and lost working days. In fact, more workers are lost to diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.   The current Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) 2002 regulations require employers to control substances that are hazardous to health through various methods, including providing measures to reduce harm to health, providing monitoring and health surveillance and planning for emergencies.   Joe Marais, Team Leader in Occupational Hygiene & Storage Equipment at Bureau Veritas, said: “Current regulations require the Duty Holder – or Principal Contractor – to ensure COSHH regulations are met, which detail the necessary steps to protecting employees against over exposure to hazardous substances, including dust. When considering the ‘hierarchy of control’, all too often we see Duty Holders implementing control solutions at the mid-way point – effective if the hazard is unremovable, of course, but does little to eliminate the hazard itself.    “We would therefore urge construction companies to consider the risk of exposure to dust and other hazardous materials from project conception, effectively ‘designing out’ the dust risk through construction planning,  including off-site construction where possible, and planning for work to be undertaken in controlled environments equipped for better managing the health risks associated with dust – such as dust suppressants and collection systems.”  Fran added: “There are some simple ways that Duty Holders can ensure they are protecting the health of their employees, though we realise that complying with industry regulations and standards – such as CDM Regulations 2015, COSHH or ‘EH40’ (which details exposure limits) – can often feel like a minefield. In this instance, a third party such as Bureau Veritas can support in meeting necessary requirements and can even work with construction companies to provide a full suite of services, including CDM Consultancy services supporting the consideration of health and safety in design and support from our Occupational Health team by way of initial consultation, audit and testing through to full reports, recommendations and control of hazardous materials.” Bureau Veritas is a leading CDM and Occupational Hygiene authority, with expert capability to support clients in meeting regulations and managing exposure to risk. To find out more about Bureau Veritas’ services or to discuss individual requirements with a member of the team, call 0345 600 1828 or visit  www.bureauveritas.co.uk. 

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Featuring G A Smith: Interview with Claire Trusty, Health and Safety Officer

G A Smith – Reputable in Construction (The Following is a Promoted Article) Undoubtedly, one of the greatest – if not the greatest – challenges faced by plant hire firms is managing health and safety. Owing to its power and size, plant equipment is intrinsically dangerous and thus proper risk management is a fundamental part of haulage business’ operations. Beginning with just one wagon in 1987, G A Smith has since grown into specialist plant hire firm of multiple vehicles and multiple areas of expertise. Operating out of three depots in Birtley, Cramlington and Felton, and with four core areas of business – plant hire, bulk haulage, bulk handling and earthworks – the firm functions as a one-stop-shop in loading, conveyance and handling. Through diversification, the firm has established a leading reputation with its construction industry clients and is favoured for its technically-competent and professional services. Although the weight G A Smith places on health and safety is then perhaps unsurprising, the firm’s success in managing risk is somewhat remarkable. Training has been key for the firm; by providing operatives with the most up-to-date advice, knowledge and skills, risk of injury by human error or misdemeanour can be mitigated. With several SMSTS-trained site managers, a number of SSSTS-trained site supervisors and all operatives having undergone CPCS training or an equivalent, G A Smith leaves nothing down to chance and has built up a level of competence that, for the most part, prevents accidents from happening altogether. More than simply providing opportunities for training however, G A Smith has taken the decision to carry out some specialist training in-house rather than sourcing courses from an external supplier. Claire Trusty, Health and Safety Officer at G A Smith, says the benefits of internal training are manifold: “Taking a hands-on approach to training has enabled us to provide operatives with exactly the qualifications and skills they needs for each specific job. What’s more, we’re also able manage operatives’ practice more attentively and make sure not only that they have the right knowledge and the right skills to perform but, equally, that they’re effecting what they’ve learned in training on a day-to-day basis.” Conducting training in-house is also well-suited to the often unpredictable schedules and working hours of G A Smith’s operatives, and thus prevents the company from having to take time away from either site works or the customer. Training provided includes: manual handling, basic working at height and fire awareness. In addition, all operatives have recently benefited from a Self-Study Environmental Awareness with a view to easing G A Smith’s transition to a ISO 14001-accredited firm. Indeed, following recent audits, the company is now accredited with ISO 14001, ISO 18001 and ISO 9001, the successful achievement of which, Trusty highlights, will prove invaluable during tendering in the future and, more generally, reinstates G A Smith’s commitment to quality and corporate responsibility. ISO accreditation is just another seal of approval for the company which also possesses a number of highly-regarded industry accolades, including SafeContractor, Constructionline and CHAS accreditation. In respect of just what CHAS membership provides the business, Trusty echoes her sentiment on ISO accreditation as well as stressing that the principles of CHAS are, in many ways, commonsense. “When we first started to invest in health and safety, changing the business in line with the requirements CHAS, it was actually much more simple and much more intuitive than it first seemed. Ultimately, CHAS mandates that businesses recognise their responsibility to provide a safe working environment for operatives and mitigate risk to the public. When you look at it like that, there’s very little to dispute.” In terms of how those ambitions are actualised on site, G A Smith issues all operatives with an up-to-date health and safety policy and PPE during induction, reviewing potential risks and hazards on a site-by-site basis and making amends as necessary. Risk assessments, method statements and COSHH assessments are all completed internally and, likewise, reviewed regularly so as to identify any changes or emerging matters of address. With profound emphasis on health and safety, G A Smith continues to excel in the bulk haulage and handling industry, proving that the – whilst the industry may be characterised by risk – it need not be defined by accident or injury. And with express commitment to maintaining such high standards evident in the company’s recent successful audit for ISO accreditation, G A Smith can only grow in prominence.

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