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Hazardous Substances on a Construction Site

What is Considered a Hazardous Substance?

Hazardous substances come in all shapes and sizes; they could come in the form of dust, fumes and chemicals for example. They can cause harm to humans, animals or the environment. The processes that you do daily could be potentially harming you.

Take a look below at the potential hazards you may face from the work you do on-site.

Examples of Hazardous Substances on a Construction Site


Sites are full of harmful fumes such as glue, solvents, paint thinner and resins. You need to try and limit the amount you use these solvents on-site to lower the risk; make sure that you properly ventilate the area you are working in and that you are wearing the relevant PPE and respiratory mask. Inhaling these solvents leads to sickness and lightheadedness in the short term; but can cause future long-term problems with your kidneys, brain and liver, as well as causing dermatitis.

Construction Dust

Hazerdous Substances COSHHWhen using some form of grinding or cutting tool if you are not wearing the correct RPE you could be harming yourself. The dust that working with abrasive wheels creates can be inhaled and cause respiratory problems. If you are regularly taking in construction dust you are putting yourself at risk of asthma, silicosis and lung cancer which are all potentially fatal. You can also create dust by demolishing walls and mixing cement.

A common COSHH risk on-site is asbestos dust; during construction or demolition, you can break and inhale the fibres in asbestos. The dangerous fibres can lead to conditions such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. To find out more about the dangers of asbestos you may want to attend an Asbestos Awareness course.

Sharps and Needlesticks

SharpsWhen you are set to work on an abandoned site it is also important to be sharps aware. It is common on buildings sites that have been left for a long time that discarded needles can be found. If you or your employees attend a Sharps Awareness course they will know how to properly dispose of needles that hold a potential health risk.

What are the different forms of Construction Hazardous Substances?

Hazardous substances come in many different forms:

  • Vapours
  • Gases
  • Solids – dust, fibre particles
  • Liquid – sprays, mists and aerosols
  • Micro-organisms – fungi, bacteria and viruses

How may have I been exposed to Hazardous Substances?

When working on-site you may be leaving yourself vulnerable to COSHH hazards if you do not protect the main routes.

  • Protect your skin as much as you can when working with cement. Cement can cause serious burns or dermatitis. Exposed cuts and wounds can also be at risk of infection.
  • By wearing RPE you are protecting yourself from breathing in polluting fumes or construction dust.
  • Make sure your hands are clean when you are eating and drinking. You can transfer hazardous substances from your hands into your mouth. Also, consider this if you are a smoker.

COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health)

COSHH Control Of Hazardous SubstancesTo ensure you avoid these hazards it is advised to attend a COSHH training course. Having your employees aware of “The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002” and able to conduct a COSHH risk assessment will help to make your site a much safer place.

Take a look here for more information on the COSHH  course and our upcoming course dates.

How to deal with Sharps and Needlestick injuries

Take a look at how sharps training can teach you how to avoid needlestick and sharps injuries in the workplace here.

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