Facebook Pixel
Skip to content

Why is dust a problem?

Each year 1,000s of construction workers contract or die from respiratory diseases due to breathing in dust and fumes. Managing and controlling exposure to dust is a challenge for the industry.

Many workers are exposed daily, but often they only work for short durations on various sites and frequently change employers. The amount breathed in each day as they work from site to site can seem small or insignificant. In some cases the effects of exposure may be immediate but generally it can take years before the symptoms of ill health become apparent. 

Because of this, respiratory risks are often overlooked, misunderstood or underplayed. 

Regularly breathing in silica dust, wood dusts and other dusts (with little or no silica content) can cause life-changing lung diseases. Such diseases can be totally disabling, causing those affected to give up work or change their employment. 

Some industry statistics

Work-related ill health has devastating consequences for individuals and their families but it is very much misunderstood or underestimated. 

  • Around 13,000 deaths each year from occupational lung disease and cancer.

  • Estimated that over 40% of new cancer registrations/deaths are to construction workers.

  • Estimated that more than 500 construction workers  die from exposure to silica dust every year….more than 10 per week.

  • Many more suffer life-changing illnesses.

  • 23.5 million working days lost in the UK to work-related ill health each year.

This CDP/IOSH survey provides an insight into issues associated with on-site dust risks and how they are controlled. The findings highlight things industry need to address.

Read Construction Dust - An Industry Survey (PDF 2.0MB).  

 For more information on construction dust read the HSE information sheet  Construction Dust CIS36 (PDF 7.93MB