HSE inspectors are starting a fortnight-long crackdown on sites exposing workers to unhealthy working conditions.
Inspectors will be looking in particular at respiratory risks from dusts including silica materials and exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint.
The inspectors will also have manual handling, noise and vibration in their sights as they make unannounced spot checks this week and next.
For every fatal accident in construction, it is estimated that a worker is at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work.
In 2012/13, 39 construction workers were killed. But more than 500 deaths a year are due to silica exposure alone.
HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, Heather Bryant, said: “The construction sector has made good progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured by its activities.
“We need to tackle where workers are unnecessarily being exposed to serious health risks, such as silica dust, which can have fatal or debilitating consequences.
“This initiative provides a chance to engage with these firms to help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe.
“However, let me be clear – poor risk management and a lack of awareness of responsibilities is unacceptable.
“Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law.”