Construction dust as the name implies is referred to as dust generated on construction sites; and is of various types. Dust can be dirty as well as causes nuisance. However, most importantly, it can also cause severe health damage, sometimes with long-term consequences.
Types of Dust
There are three main types of dust:
- Silica dust: Silica is a natural mineral found in sand, sandstone, and granite in large quantities. Many building materials such as concrete and mortar are also commonly seen. During many everyday tasks such as cutting, drilling, and grinding, silica is broken into a very fine dust (also known as Respirable Crystalline Silica or RCS). Silicium dust is often called silica.
- Non-silica dust: Where silica is not found or present in meager quantities, there are some construction products. Gypsum, cement, calcareous, marble and dolomite are the most common. When cutting things like bricks, this dust is also mixed with silica dust.
- Wood dust: Wood is widely used in building and is found in two primary forms: softwood and hardwood. Wood-based products, including MDF and chipboard, are also commonly used.
Causes of Dust
Building workers have a particularly high risk of developing health problems due to prolonged exposure to high dust levels. OSHA’s silica standard for general industry and maritime took effect June 23, 2018. The agency estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust annually.
Related Article OSHA Published Silica Standard FAQ
On a construction site, there are many routine tasks that can produce high dust levels:
- Cutting paving blocks, curbs, and flags.
- Chase concrete and mortar raking.
- Sweeping dry area of the site.
- Cutting roof tiles.
- Concrete scabbling or grinding or other construction materials.
- Soft demolition of strips.
- Woodcuts and sanding.
- Sanding taped and covered plasterboard joints.
The 2002 regulations of Health Hazardous Substances Control (COSHH) regulate activities that may expose workers to building dust. It provides employers with a legal obligation to prevent or adequately control the exposure of workers and requires risk assessment and control and control.
Dust builds up in the lungs and, while the effects may not be immediately apparent, exposure to high levels of dust can lead to permanent damage to the lungs and airways over a prolonged period. Some of the diseases mostly affect construction workers are related to dust include lung cancer which is silicosis. Chronic obstructive pulmonary illness (COPD) which is asthma.
There are some factors that contribute to the risks from dust: The more energy involved the work increases the risk. In a very short time, high-energy tools such as cut-off saws, grinders and grit blasters produce much dust. Depending on how close the work area is, dust will build up. The longer the work takes, the more dust. Doing the same work day after day increases the risk of hazardous dust exposure.
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For a full copy of the General Industry FAQ please see this link -> https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline/generalindustry_info_silica.html