Use Vacuums to Reduce Potentially Fatal Danger in Dust at Construction Sites

worker drilling concrete

There are many reports on the dangers of silica dust, which can cause the deadly lung disease of silicosis. Now NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Healthy) has published a study on how to reduce exposure to this dangerous substance at construction sites, where silica hazards are quite common. Some of the materials that can release silica when cut, ground or shaped include:

– Fiber-Cement Siding*
– Bricks*
– Mortar*
– Concrete*

Fortunately, workers needn’t be defenseless against this growing hazard. NIOSH scientists found that vacuum cleaners can be a valuable, low-cost tool for minimizing crystalline silica inhalation.* This can be done by connecting a vacuum to a compatible circular saw, enabling the paired devices to collect much of the dust that would typically scatter on jobsites.*

Proper implementation of this practice isn’t as simple as it sounds, though. Only the correct combination of vacuum air-flow, hosing, saw blade and more combined with adequate work practices will be effective.* Users can also plug the devices into an intelligent vacuum switch. Doing so eliminates the need to turn the dust collection system on and off, and guarantees the vacuum and saw components are always working in tandem.*

Perhaps the most low-tech advice in the study results is using the power saw outside whenever practical.* You only want confined space when it comes to the disposal of collected dust. The study endorses covered trash containers near work stations of saw operators so waste is unable to escape.*

Then maintenance comes into play. Filter bags and cartridges should be inspected daily along with regular checks for wear on the saw blade.* Still, this is an investment worth considering given the potential workforce consequences.