Over the next two weeks HSE inspectors will visit building projects across Britain and focus on respirable silica dust, wood dust and asbestos.
Other issues they will target include work at height, structural safety, materials handling and welfare provision.
This is the second phase of the inspection programme. During phase one earlier this year the regulator carried out more than 2,000 inspections and took enforcement action on almost half the visits.
The HSE noted there is a “misconception that health issues cannot be controlled in construction”. It said harmful dust can be managed effectively with proper equipment and training and has urged contractors, clients and designers to “ensure they are not adding to this unacceptable toll of harm by failing to manage well-known risks”.
The number of people who died from work-related illnesses in 2015-16 was ten times higher than the 43 construction workers fatally injured during that period, the regulator said.
HSE chief inspector of construction and director of the construction division, Peter Baker, said: “In phase one of this campaign the HSE’s inspectors found lots of good examples of small sites working safety and protecting workers’ health from exposure to harmful dusts, proving it can be done. My message to smaller businesses is don’t wait for an accident or a visit from an HSE inspector – learn from the success of others and act now.
“Nearly half of construction fatal accidents and injuries reported to HSE involved refurbishment work. Some small refurbishment sites continue to cut corners and not properly protect their workers resulting in an unacceptable number of deaths and injuries each year.”