Health and Safety Authority (HSA) campaign to target dangerous substances in construction

Construction Safety Week sees industry gear up for nationwide awareness initiatives

Monday 22nd October

Today marks the beginning of ‘Construction Safety Week 2018’, an initiative of the Construction Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (CSPAC), whose members include the HSA, CIF, trade unions and key industry stakeholders. This week will see a range of initiatives aimed at promoting construction safety and health.

Starting today (Monday 22nd October) Inspectors from the Authority will visit sites across the country to ensure that workers are not exposed to dangerous substances. These include silica dust, asbestos and chemical products used in construction.

  • Exposure to silica dust can occur anywhere that concrete, stone or sand based materials are being used. If silica dust is inhaled it can cause lung damage.
  • Asbestos containing materials can be present in buildings constructed or refurbished prior to 2000, after which its use was banned. Asbestos only becomes hazardous when disturbed and its fibres are released into the air. If inhaled, asbestos fibres may lead to asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.
  • Inspectors will also be gathering information on what chemical products are being used on sites such as epoxy resins, solvent based paints and foams. They will be ensuring that appropriate controls are in place and that safety information is available, such as hazard labels and safety data sheets.

According to Michael McDonagh, Senior Construction Inspector with the HSA, employers need to be aware that preventing work related illness is as important as preventing accidents:

“Exposure to hazardous substances in construction, usually through inhalation or skin contact, can lead to a variety of negative health implications from minor irritation to cancer.  Very often symptoms are not immediately obvious so it is important that employers are aware of their responsibilities in relation to their employee’s health. Prevention is the best strategy so it is essential that there is an awareness of the dangers and that appropriate control measures are put in place. These include using less harmful materials, local exhaust ventilation, using water to suppress dusts and providing suitable Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE).”

Construction Safety Week 2018 is held in conjunction with a range of partners including the CIF, ESB and other organisations involved with the CSPAC. This week CSPAC members will organise safety initiatives that include promotional videos, social media campaigns and training workshops.

Michael McDonagh says that this “industry led” model of promoting safety and health is positive for employers and employees:

“We want to support industry stakeholders that take the initiative and see the benefits of a safe and healthy workforce. With their help Construction Safety Week has grown to become a national initiative that benefits everyone in the industry.”

Further information on CSPAC member activities for safety week is available at

Monday 22nd October also marks the start of European Week for Safety and Health at Work. The theme for this EU-wide campaign is "Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances”. 

 See for full details.