Dust Toolbox Talk
In this toolbox talk, learn about the hazards and risks associated with the types of dust present on construction sites. Plus, get our dust control safety tips.
Dust Control Safety Talk
Construction sites have many different hazards present and dust can be one of them. Dust can cause a variety of issues from health concerns to physical hazards for workers who are exposed to it. It is important to know and understand the issues that dust on a construction site can cause and what safety steps you can take to control dust exposure.
What is construction dust?
Construction dust is a general term used to describe different types of dust that you may find on a construction site.
Construction dust is not just a nuisance, it can also seriously damage your health and some types can even kill you. Regularly breathing these specks of dust over a long period of time can cause lung issues and even diseases.
The three main types of construction dust are:
Dust Health Hazards
Everyone on a job site should know the damage construction dust can do to the lungs and airways. The main dust-related diseases affecting construction workers are:
Some of these diseases such as asthma and advanced siliceous can develop rather quickly. However, most of these diseases take a long time to develop.
Dust can build up in the lungs and gradually over time harm you. These effects are not often seen immediately and unfortunately by the time it is noticed the total damage done may already be serious and life-threatening. Construction workers are at a greater risk of developing issues associated with dust because many common construction tasks can create high dust levels. It is believed that over 500 construction workers die every year from exposure to silica dust.
Assessing Dust Hazards on the Construction Site
Before starting a project, it is important to assess the many dust hazards and risks that are linked to construction work and materials. High dust levels can be caused by several factors, including:
Dust Safety Best Practices
You can use some of the following safety measures to control the risks involved with working around construction dust.
1. Stop Or Reduce Dust
Before you start on a new job, look at ways to stop or reduce the amount of dust you might make. You can use different materials or less powerful tools. For example:
2. Control The Dust
If you are unable to completely stop the dust there are ways to reduce the dust that is getting into the air. There are two main ways of accomplishing dust control:
3. Wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)
RPE equipment can also help with dust when water or on-toll extraction cannot reduce the exposure enough. If you are using RPE you need to make sure it is adequate for the amount and type of dust you are being exposed to.
RPE has an assigned protection factor also called an ADF which shows how much protection it gives to the person wearing it. The general level for construction dust is an ADF of 20. This means the person who is wearing the mask only breaths one-twentieth of the amount of dust in the air. In some woods, you can also use an APF of 10 if the dust risk is lower.
When wearing respriratory protective equipment, it's important for RPE to be:
It is also important to remember that RPE is the last line of protection against construction dust. For an RPE to work appropriately it is important to also know what type (species) of wood you are working with.
Review & Follow Dust Safety Controls
Your work site may already have dust safety controls in place, but it is crucial that they are all working together properly. You can help with this by:
Dust Safety Starts With You
Considering the dust hazards that can be created on the worksite is the first step to preventing injuries. Realizing the health issues as well as the physical issues and protect yourself and your coworkers. If you have an injury related to dust please notify your supervisor immediately so proper medical treatment can be administered.
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