Unite, the UK’s construction union, is urging workers not to risk their health if they are not supplied with the correct PPE.
The union’s warning follows the revelation that many contractors are struggling to purchase the appropriate dust masks.
The Construction Enquirer reported that more than 60 per cent of engineering services contractors have struggled to source dust masks for use on site.
The survey, by a number of trade bodies in the industry, found that 15 per cent of businesses said their situation in trying to secure FFP3 dust masks was ‘impossible’, with another 36 per cent reporting their situation was ‘highly challenging’.
The poll also found that 44 per cent of firms said they had ‘sustained difficulty’ in sourcing FFP2 masks for use on site.
The shortage is understood to be a result of the vastly increased demand for face masks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Responding to the news, Unite national officer Jerry Swain said,“Workers must not place their health at risk.
“If PPE is required and the correct masks are not available then work has to be delayed until they can be sourced. Workers must not feel pressurised into taking shortcuts with their safety,” he added.
“If a worker is at all uncertain about whether they require PPE they must request to see an appropriate risk assessment. If they still believe it is unsafe, an employee legally has a right to remove themselves from a dangerous situation.”
“Unite will fully support a member who declines to work due to safety concerns.
“Clearly most responsible employers will follow the rules and reschedule work but there remains too many rogue employers who are willing to risk the health of their workers,” Swain went on to say.
“It is all too easy to forget because of the pandemic that there are many reasons why an appropriate mask may be required while undertaking construction work other than preventing the spread of Covid-19.
“Even when you are socially distancing you may still need to wear a mask because of the dangerous nature of the work being undertaken.”
By Barckley Sumner