Tips on How to Protect Your Workers from the Dust Produced by Drilling or Sawing of Concrete
Drilling or sawing of concrete produces dust which is harmful to the health of your workers. The dust contains Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS), which causes a disease known as silicosis. RCS destroys the lungs by inducing the development of small nodules, which result in breathing complications. It may take years for symptoms of silicosis to show, especially when a worker is exposed to low levels of RCS.
However, daily exposure to RCS may not be so kind in triggering the disease. And that is why you should take measures to ensure the safety of your workers. The following tips show how you can keep your workers protected from the dust.
Wet the Concrete First
A research conducted by the university of Massachusetts shows that dry concrete generates more dust than wet concrete when cut with saws. Researchers from the university carried out their tests on samples of concrete pipes – 8 ft in length.
Concentration of dust produced by dry concrete was found to be 14.396 milligrams per cubic meter. After the concrete was fed with water from a water hose, it generated 1.1 milligrams per cubic meter of silica dust, which is way less than the dust produced by wet concrete. It simply hints that you should instruct your workers to pour water on concrete first before allowing them to work on it.
Hook Your Power Tools with Dust Extractors
Check your drilling tools to see if they have dust extraction ports. If they do, attach dust extractor units to the ports, preferably the M Class dust extractor units. The M class types are suitable for extraction of very fine dust that is usually produced by concrete drilling or sawing of concrete. If your tools lack the ports, it is not a bad idea to consider investing in tools that have them.
Invest in Proper Dust Masks
It sounds like an obvious measure but not all dust masks are effective in filtering dust. Dust generated by concrete drilling is very fine, and can pass through the materials of many common masks. This is why you should consider shifting to or investing in masks that have High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filters. An alternative to dust masks is the use of respirators.
You can also protect your workers from the dangers of silica dust by influencing their behaviour around the workplace. For instance, you can advise them to smoke, eat, or drink away from a construction site, or that they can remove dust from their clothes using vacuums that have high-efficiency filters when they get home.