Unite says 'no' to workplace dust
The official limit for workplace dust must be lowered to protect workers from one of the work's biggest killers, the union Unite has said. Unite has joined the TUC in calling for a review of dust exposure levels, in line with recommendations from the trade union side of the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances (ACTS) (Risks 521). HSE has so far refused to move to a safer standard, despite acknowledging the current standard is far from safe (Risks 506). TUC's new guidance, backed by Unite, presents evidence that dust is one of the biggest workplace killers and several thousands of workers are dying as a result of dust exposure. The unions say that although much of toll is because of inadequate enforcement of existing standards, a considerable number of deaths are a result of the inadequate maximum exposure levels - workers are developing sometimes fatal diseases at exposures at or below the current workplace limit. While it waits for HSE to act, unions are promoting their own interim voluntary standard, set at a quarter the current official limit. Bud Hudspith, Unite national health and safety adviser, commented: 'Too many Unite members are being exposed to dangerous levels of dust at work. The current dust standards are not good enough and there is strong scientific evidence to prove it. Unite is calling on the Health and Safety Executive to launch a general campaign to reduce dust exposure in all workplaces and to improve the inadequate dust standards that currently exist.'
Issued: 9 September, 2011