Dusty hands on the job

Helping to control dust exposure

Why a focus on dust exposure should be a priority

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has completed an investigation into construction dust risks

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

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

Join the discussion: November 5th

Clearing the air: how dust exposure is impacting health and safety

2:30PM Thursday, November 5th #ConstructTheFuture

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 join the conversation 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

Connect with Matias on LinkedIn

Andy Lawrence

Hire Compliance Manager, Travis Perkins

Connect with Andy on LinkedIn

John Saunders

Principal Ventilation Scientist, HSE

Connect with John on LinkedIn

Download the HSE 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

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.

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.

Drilling / Chiselling

01/

Tools for concrete drilling and chiselling

SDS Plus rotary hammers SDS Max rotary hammers

02/

Dust removal systems (DRS)

DRS for SDS Plus DRS for SDS Max Hollow drill bits

03/

Corded, wet and dry vacuum cleaners

L, M and H class vacuums

BREAKING

01/

Tools for ceiling, wall and floor demolition

Cordless demolition hammers Corded demolition hammers

02/

Dust removal systems (DRS)

DRS for demolition hammers

03/

Corded, wet and dry vacuum cleaners

L, M and H class vacuums

SLITTING

01/

Diamond blade tools for concrete cutting

DCH 300-X Electric cutter

02/

M Class wet and dry vacuum cleaner

VC 40-UM Vacuum cleaner

HSE tested solution

Download the full HSE report

Cutting

01/

Tools for cutting in wood and wood composites

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

02/

Corded, wet and dry vacuum cleaners

L, M and H class vacuums

GRINDING

01/

Hand-held tools, designed for fast concrete removal

Concrete grinders

02/

Corded, wet and dry vacuum cleaners

L, M and H class vacuums

Choosing the right vacuum for your application

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 (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 (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

Demystifying Health and Safety Compliance and innovating for tomorrow

#ConstructTheFuture

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.

why should i care about dust?

Some HSE experts consider dust as the “new asbestos in the construction industry” because of its potentially hazardous consequences on health and safety. But why should you care about it?

Read More

How to reduce dust by applying the stop principle

Our Services Product Manager Saskia looks at what can be done to reduce exposure to dust, focusing on the STOP principle.

Read More

control dust with hilti expert knowledge

Since the 1990s, Hilti has been developing a rich competence in the field of virtually dust-free working, so this time we discuss what a dust research does and the Hilti dust solutions that can really make a difference.

Read More

Share