Construction dust FAQ's
HSE has provided answers to a number of frequently asked questions in relation to construction dust.
For further information see the HSE website for specific pages on respiratory disease in the construction industry
Construction dust health risks
This publically available video produced for WorkSafe BC in Canada shows how breathing in silica dust can cause permanent damage to the lungs. Click on the image to watch the video on YouTube
Health Risks at Work offers practical guidance and downloadable resources to help small businesses identify and manage common work related health risks including risks to breathing. The video below highlights risks to health from exposure to dusts and can be used to raise awareness and to start discussions with your workforce on the risks and controls needed in the work environment
This guidance on Occupational Health Risk Management in Construction was written by the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) Health Risks Working Group. It offers advice on assessing the risks to health in the construction industry and the role of occupational health service provision in preventing or controlling those risks.
A Code of Practice - Managing exposure to construction dusts in the workplace that provides guidance on protecting the health of employees from construction dust risks - HAE Dust in the Workplace CoP (PDF 5 MB)
HSE Busy Builder CIS78: Construction Dust - what you need to know as a busy builder. This sheet contains some essential tips to follow.
Guidance on work activities
Using on-tool extraction / CDP guidance sheet
This short guide developed by the CDP provides information on getting the right dust extraction kit, using it properly and keeping it well maintained. CDP On Tool Extraction (PDF Doc 240KB)
HSE have produced an information sheet that provides more detailed guidance on choosing, using and maintaining on-tool extraction for controlling construction dust
HSE Construction Dust with On Tool Extraction (PDF 395KB)
HSE video - Time to clear the air
The HSE Time to clear the air video gives simple advice on protecting workers and using water suppression when cutting kerbstones and paving.
Cutting precast concrete blocks, flags and kerbs - efficient design and managing the risk. Information is available at The Interpave Pre Cast Concrete Paving and Kerb Association Please not you will need to register on Interpaves site.
Cutting paving (PDF 341KB)
Using Respiratory Equiptment (RPE face masks)
It is important for managers and their workers to understand how, when and why to select the correct mask.
HSE and Healthy Working Lives have produced an RPE selector tool to help you select the correct respirator for many of the jobs your workers carry out.
The Fit2Fit Scheme is designed to confirm the competency of any person performing face piece fit testing.
RPE Fact sheet on facial hair:
A PDF download that outlines facts & best practice for the use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) when issued as a means of control to prevent the inhalation of hazardous substances at work where users have facial hair.
HSE Construction dust information sheet CIS36:
This HSE information sheet tells employers, safety representatives and workers what they need to know to prevent or adequately control construction dust risks. It includes a useful table describing the expected controls for common high risk activities.
HSE Woodworking information sheet WIS30: Toxic Woods
This sheet advises on the reported adverse health effects associated with different woods and will help you take suitable precautions so that you can avoid or minimise their ill-health effects.
Training and promotion resources
This single side of A4 promotes the key messages for workers and can be delivered out on site.
CDP - Toolbox Talk (Word Doc 240KB)
These PowerPoint presentations with speaker’s notes have been developed so you can raise awareness of the issues.
CDP - WWT Construction dust presentation (Power Point 1.4MB)
CDP - What you need to know about dust (Power Point 3.6MB)
The CDP has produced a leaflet to raise awareness of the group and our website. It can be freely downloaded and/or printed to hand out at workplaces, events, etc.
CDP leaflet (PDF 830KB)
These two posters produced by the CDP are designed to raise awareness amongst workers to stop and think about the tasks they are doing and the effects on their health. You can use the space at the bottom to add company details or key messages relevant to the job.
'Don't wait for the dust to settle' (PDF 1.0MB)
'Wear the right gear' (PDF 2.0MB)
A further poster provided by Unite the Union shows the damaging effect that silica can have on a worker’s lungs.
CITB Resources- FREE dust related content*
GE700 Construction site safety – Chapter B10 Dust and fumes. This chapter explains what dust is, what it can do to the human body, and what must be done to minimise exposure to protect the workforce.
GE706 Site supervision simplified – Chapter B10 Dust and fumes. This chapter summarises what employers need to and what supervisors need to minimise exposure and protect the workforce.
GT700 Toolbox talks – TBT B14 – Silica dust.
*This toolbox talk can be used to as a guide to deliver key messages to the workforce.
To view the chapters visit the Gateway to Online Learning and Development - GOLD and click on ‘GUEST ACCESS’ and then TASTER PUBLICATIONS Other changes. Some of the publications are free.
Linked campaigns and initiatives
The Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG)
The mission of the HCLG is to unite the construction industry in order to eradicate the ill health and disease caused by exposures to health hazards on building sites. The home page contains a powerful video “committing construction to a healthier future.”
British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) ‘Breathe Freely’ initiative
BOHS have a dedicated website about controlling exposures to prevent occupational lung disease in the construction industry. It contains free resources and guidance, trade fact sheets, case studies, and worker case studies.
Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) ‘No Time to Lose’ initiative
IOSH have launched the silica phase of their campaign – the website contains free resources, guidance, trade fact sheets and case studies.
British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) ‘Clean Air? Take Care!’ campaign
This BSIF led campaign (with HSE) centres on raising awareness among respiratory protective equipment (RPE) users, employers, fit testers and advisors on the correct selection, deployment, use, maintenance and storage of RPE.
Terry the former stoneworker suffering with silicosis
Terry suffers from silicosis after being exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) at work. Terry worked for over 30 years with different types of stone. He has developed silicosis – a serious respiratory condition that will almost certainly shorten his life after breathing in RCS. Silicosis can develop in workers exposed to RCS in a number of industries including construction, stone working, quarrying, brick making and ceramics.
Construction dust: Worker's stories
Construction dust is not just a nuisance. It can seriously damage your health and cause life changing lung diseases. Here are some examples of the impact that dust has had on peoples lives.
Selection of case studies from BOHS Breathe Freely site
Supporting case studies from actual construction projects which show real benefits from control solutions in a construction site context.
Efficient design for safe construction using precast concrete kerbs
Interpave manufacturer members offer a range of kerb solutions to the HSE requirement for a hierarchical ‘AMC’ approach - Avoid cutting, Minimise cutting, Control dust generation during cutting. This approach is clearly demonstrated in this case study.
Case Studies from Interpave