Construction firms cutting corners on health and safety will feel the “full weight of the law”, the Health and Safety Executive has warned, after announcing a two-week inspection blitz on sites across the UK.
The regulator said it will make unannounced visits across the country to tackle occupational health on construction sites.
Starting this week, inspectors will be looking at potential respiratory risks from dust including silica materials.
HSE chief inspector of construction Heather Bryant said: “Let me be clear: poor risk management and a lack of awareness of responsibilities is unacceptable.
“Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law.”
Inspectors will also be checking for exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint as well as manual handling, noise and vibration.
The HSE said for every fatal incident in the construction industry, it is estimated that a worker was at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work.
In 2012/13, 39 construction workers were killed. However, more than 500 deaths a year are due to silica exposure alone, according to the HSE.
Ms Bryant said the construction sector had made progress in reducing the number of people killed or injured by its activities.
She added: “We need to tackle where workers are being unnecessarily exposed to serious health risks, such as silica dust, which can have fatal or debilitating consequences.
“This initiative provides a chance to engage with these firms and help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures to keep people safe.”