Construction bodies warn of dust mask shortage because of coronavirus demand


Construction and engineering groups have raised concerns about a lack of dust masks and inflated prices when they are available, which has prompted a union to warn employees against working without adequate protection.

The procurement of breathing apparatus (RPE) becomes a challenge for many companies that need it for work purposes. Fifteen percent of contractors said it was "impossible" to get FFP3 dust masks, while 36 percent said it was "very challenging" to find them. Almost half (44%) had "persistent difficulties" in finding FFP2 masks, the survey said.

The survey was conducted by trade organizations such as the Electrical Contractors & # 39; Association (ECA), the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), SELECT (the Scottish trade association for the electrical, electronics and communication systems industry), SNIPEF (the Scottish and Northern Irish sanitary sector ) carried out by the employers' association), the association of the elevator and escalator industry (LEIA) and the coronavirus forum of the construction industry (CICV forum) also found that the price for dust masks had at least doubled for 44% of the companies.

Price inflation and lack of equipment are believed to have been caused by the booming demand for facewear to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

“The excessive cost of RPE is clearly a problem, but it is overshadowed by the difficulties that our sector is experiencing, for companies that want to offer their employees protection but also security related to coronaviruses and the other more common respiratory hazards . Said ECR director of CSR Paul Reeve.

Rebecca Crosland, Health and Safety Advisor at BESA said: “RPE and PSA are vital for our sector to work safely and not only to protect workers from Covid-19 but also from regular hazards such as inhalation of dusts , Silica and other toxic chemicals.

"The delivery of compliant RPE / PSA needs to be addressed urgently to maintain worker productivity, health and safety."

Jerry Swain, a national officer at Union Unite, warned employees not to put their health at risk if they were not provided with the correct protective equipment.

He said: “If PPE is required and the right masks are not available, work has to be delayed until they can be obtained. Workers must not feel pressured to take shortcuts with their safety.

“If an employee is not at all sure whether he needs PPE, he has to request an appropriate risk assessment. If you still believe that it is unsafe, an employee has the legal right to remove himself from a dangerous situation.

“Because of the pandemic, it is all too easy to forget that there are many reasons why a suitable mask may be required during construction other than preventing the spread of Covid-19.

"Even if you distance yourself socially, you may have to wear a mask because the work done is dangerous."

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