Today’s toolbox talk topic is the often underestimated but ever-present dangers of dust on construction sites. Dust may seem harmless, but it can silently wreak havoc on our health. Inhaling construction dust can lead to serious respiratory issues like asthma, bronchitis, and even long-term conditions like silicosis. It’s crucial to wear proper respiratory protection and implement dust control measures to minimise exposure. Remember, a dusty site is an unhealthy site. Let’s prioritise our well-being by taking dust seriously, using the right protective gear, and keeping our work environment safe and clean.

As construction materials are dismantled, shaped, and assembled, dust dispersion can occur rapidly. High-energy tools such as cut-off saws, grit blasters, and practices like dry sweeping exacerbate the generation of substantial dust volumes. These particulates are virtually unavoidable in nearly every construction site, posing a genuine threat to workers.

3 Types of constriction dust and their risk

Silica Dust

  • Found in sand, granite, concrete and mortar
  • Damages lungs and allows silicosis to develop.

Wood Dust

  • Emerges when sawing or cutting wood
  • Contributes to asthma and increases the risk of lung cancer

Low-toxicity Dust

  • Found in gypsum, cement, limestone and marble
  • Triggers non-malignant respiratory diseases

What makes these types of particles even more dangerous is their microscopic size, making them virtually invisible to the naked eye and capable of staying airborne for up to 42 hours.

Effects of dust on health

  • Eye irritation.
  • Skin irritation.
  • Irritation of the stomach and intestines if swallowed.
  • Respiratory conditions.

What are the challenges associated with removing construction dust?

Dust is difficult to detect

Since microscopic construction dust particles are hard to see, it is challenging to identify where they have spread within a property and determine what dust control measures are needed in each area.

Particles are hard to capture

Capturing construction dust is also tricky due to its small size, typically between 0.1 and 0.3 microns in diameter. To effectively trap these tiny particles and improve air quality, it is essential to use specialist air filters and equipment.

Contaminants can be hard to reach

A construction site’s layout and structural obstacles, such as walls, floors, and ceilings, can make removing dust from a space more complex and time-consuming.

Download the full toolbox talk on the dangers of dust on construction sites.

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