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Construction Site Safety - Dust

Just about every construction site in the world will create dust in its operations. Unlike many other hazards, dust is harder to contain as it can easily get past site perimeter fences and affect the area beyond where activity is taking place. It has the potential to cause problems for both the public, and for the local environment.

For people and other living creatures, dust can cause respiratory problems, as well as causing irritation and possible damage to eyes if the dust particles are of a material which is abrasive to the eye. Particularly hazardous material such as silica dust can cause irreversible long-term lung damage.

In sufficient quantities dust can also damage the local environment. If a lot settles on plants and trees, it can block sunlight from getting to the leaves which will prevent photosynthesis. Whilst it is likely to blow off naturally in the wind, it may cause problems if there for a long period of time. If there is really a lot of it, it can bury and kill young/small trees, plants or grass. Hazardous dust can also enter nearby rivers and streams with the potential to mix with the water and cause damage to fish and other aquatic creatures.

Suitable precautions should be but in place in order to minimise or prevent the negative consequences associated with excessive dust. For those on site, personal protective equipment such as breathing apparatus and goggles can be used to prevent damage to health along with using equipment which captures the dust created by cutting or drilling. To prevent dust causing problems for the public and the environment, the area can be dampened down with water to prevent dust from escaping into the air and beyond the site boundaries. Areas should also be swept regularly to prevent the build up of large quantities of dust, although those doing the sweeping need to take precautions as this sweeping will whip up the dust and could be inhaled.

The risks and hazards from dust are covered in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, apart from lead and asbestos dust which have their own specific regulations. Site workers would benefit greatly from health and safety training such as COSHH training in order to become more aware of the short-term and long-term dangers posed by dust, and how to work safely in dusty places of work.

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Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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