Dusty hands on the job

Helping to control dust exposure

Why a focus on dust exposure should be a priority

worker using drill with dust control system to drill holes

Now more than ever, health and safety is a key focal point for construction

Exposure to dust is one of the most significant problems the construction industry is facing, with some HSE experts referring to it as 'the new asbestos.'

Dust occurs at nearly every point in the construction process and has hazardous consequences upon the health and safety of onsite workers and the surrounding environment. It is vital to understand; what it is, the detrimental impacts it can have on your jobsite and workers, and how you can take steps to create safer working conditions.

What actually is dust?

Dust is made up of tiny solid particles that are highly dispersed and easily circulated in the air. Meaning exposure to dust can affect not just the worker generating the dust, but other people in the vicinity.

Dust particles can be extremely small and when smaller than 10 microns, are classified as fine dust or particulate matter (PM). Dust bigger than 10 microns is classified as coarse dust.  To put this into context, the average human hair is about 60 microns thick. 

There is a variety of dust types that occur on a jobsite. Inhalable dust, such as wood dust, can be trapped in the mouth and nose and is less than 100 microns in size, affecting productivity and causing great discomfort for workers. The most harmful is respirable dust or silica dust, which is less than 10 microns in size and penetrates deep into your lungs. This is generated through abrasive treatment like drilling, chiselling, sawing, or grinding of silica-containing materials like concrete, mortar, and sandstone.

The consequences of breathing in Silica dust

Overexposure to fine dust is extremely dangerous and breathing it in regularly can lead to a build-up in the lungs. Once the dust particles have reached parts of the respiratory system, they interfere with oxygen and cause long term damage. This can lead to serious health problems like lung cancer, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and silicosis.  Every year, over 500 construction workers suffer fatalities from exposure to silica dust.

Employers must take the correct measures to reduce their workers' exposure to dust while on the jobsite.

Which workplace would you rather be working in?

Most people would prefer to work in a clean environment where body, clothes and surroundings stay clean and no personal protective equipment must be worn.

Working in clouds of dust also increase the risk of injuries due to reduced visibility and can distract employees because of eye irritations, sneezing, coughing or nose blowing. But that’s not the only reason to take control of dust.

You can significantly increase productivity and lower maintenance costs with appropriate measures against dust by:
  • Reducing preparation time: no or minimal time sealing off the area required before work starts
  • Reducing cleaning: depending on the application you can save up to 99% of cleaning time
  • Reducing damage of fixtures and fittings: like carpets, furniture and other furnishings
  • Increasing lifetime of tools: by up to 60% and of inserts by up to 20%
  • Increasing application speed: up to 20% with cleaner and sharper tools

Watch the webinar

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Watch: How dust exposure is impacting health and safety


Now more than ever, there is a key focus on health and safety, and exposure to dust is a serious threat to the construction industry. You’re invited to watch the webinar around the impact of dust and what it means for construction businesses. Hear from leading industry experts as they evaluate the current landscape and issues surrounding dust exposure. 

Dive into the HSE report and learn how we’re working in partnership toward a safer future for construction workers. What innovative tools can help create virtually dust-free working? How can you keep your employees safe? It’s time to act on dust.

Meet the Panel

Matias Jarnefelt, General Manager, Northern Europe, Hilti

Matias Jarnefelt

General Manager, Northern Europe, Hilti

Connect with Matias on LinkedIn
Andy Lawrence, Hire Compliance Manager, Travis Perkins

Andy Lawrence

Hire Compliance Manager, Travis Perkins

Connect with Andy on LinkedIn
John Saunders, Health and Safety Laboratory

John Saunders

Principal Ventilation Scientist, HSE

Connect with John on LinkedIn

Download the HSE report

HSE Testing report

HSE Testing report

Assessment of dust extraction system solutions on hand-held electric diamond cutters to BS EN 50632

Which dust extraction system proved most efficient when tested? Discover the effectiveness of three dust extraction solutions for hand-held electric diamond cutters and which came out on top in this free HSE report.

Effective Dust Control Solutions

Hilti has its own Dust Research Centre in Germany which plays a vital role in ensuring that Hilti power tools are designed and developed to control dust. Hilti’s Dust Experts are part of a community actively developing relevant standards like EN 50632. 

John Saunders (HSE Scientist), who reviewed the Dust Research Centre, commented on the Hilti approach to tackle dust: “It’s clear that the design of extraction has not been added to the tool as an afterthought; rather, it has been embedded into the tool design at an early stage.”

As a result, Hilti has developed a broad range of dust control solutions for the majority of your application needs.

It’s clear that the design of extraction has not been added to the tool as an afterthought; rather, it has been embedded into the tool design at an early stage.

John Saunders
HSE Scientist

Download free dust ebook
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Drilling / Chiselling


Rotary hammers

Tools for concrete drilling and chiselling

SDS Plus rotary hammers SDS Max rotary hammers


DRS accessories


Corded, wet and dry vacuum cleaners

L, M and H class vacuums



Demolition hammers

Tools for ceiling, wall and floor demolition

Cordless demolition hammers Corded demolition hammers


DRS-B system

Dust removal systems (DRS)

DRS for demolition hammers


Corded, wet and dry vacuum cleaners

L, M and H class vacuums



DCH 300-X electric cutter

Diamond blade tools for concrete cutting

DCH 300-X Electric cutter


VC 40-UM vacuum cleaner

M Class wet and dry vacuum cleaner

VC 40M-X Vacuum cleaner
Health & Safety Laboratory

HSE tested solution

Download the full HSE report



Cordless circular saws

Tools for cutting in wood and wood composites

SCW 22-A Circular saw SC 70W-A22 Circular saw


Corded, wet and dry vacuum cleaners

L, M and H class vacuums



Concrete grinders

Hand-held tools, designed for fast concrete removal

Concrete grinders


Corded, wet and dry vacuum cleaners

L, M and H class vacuums

Choosing the right vacuum for your application

L-class sticker

L Class (low risk)

L Class dust includes house dust, soft woods, and solid surface material. 

The maximum allowable concentration of L class dust is > 1 mg/m³, this means the vacuum cleaner has to extract 99% of the dust. 

M-class sticker

M Class (medium risk)

Dust from hard woods, cement, concrete and tile cement as well as paints belong to the M class.

The maximum allowable concentration of M class dust is ≥ 0.1 mg/m³, this means 99.9% of the dust has to be extracted. 

H-Class sticker

H class (high risk)

Typical H Class dust can be found in asbestos, mineral fibres, bitumen and artificial fibres such as glass wool. 

The maximum allowable concentration of H class dust is < 0.1 mg/m³., this means 99.995% of the dust has to be extracted. 

Further reading

Read more on this topic on our blog

Discussing what's important for your business

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Demystifying Health and Safety Compliance and innovating for tomorrow


Health & Safety is an ever-evolving issue for our industry and one that we are continuously looking to address through the development of new products and technologies. But we know that it’s more than just a functional necessity for construction businesses – it’s the focus of long-term strategies crafted in the boardroom to improve the way we work.

From our roundtable session with 8 industy leading experts, we highlight the emerging trends in Health & Safety and those which will be at the forefront of contractors’ thinking in the coming years. Which new technologies will transform how people work on site? How will they interact and report progress, and how will compliance feed into boardroom policies now and in the future.

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