With dust fast becoming the next biggest danger in the construction industry, joiners and carpenters are four times more likely to be affected. Asthma can be caused by dust in workshops and onsite, as well as more severe issues such as cancer.
There are three main types of construction dusts that we must be aware of and vigilant against:
- silica dust
- wood dust
- lower toxicity dusts
Prevention of inhalation is paramount, and providing dust extraction is often the first line of defence. The HSE says:
“Provide dust extraction (also known as local exhaust ventilation or LEV) at woodworking machines to capture and remove dust before it can spread.
Design the extraction system to take into account:
- the number and type of machines to be connected to it, the ones that are used together and the layout of the workshop or factory. This information should be supplied by the user.
- the machine manufacturer’s information or an experienced body’s information on air flow and extraction cross-sectional areas or volume flow rates (VFR) required for each extraction connection for each machine."
Ensuring that workers know they why’s and how’s of safe practice when working with extraction safeguards against illness and injury. Do they know how to use the extraction correctly, and are they using it? Are they getting rid of dust safely? And are they using extra protection such as masks when necessary?
When doing work that creates a finer dust - which enters the lungs much easier - masks are needed as well as extraction. There’s a handy guide to choosing the right RPE on the HSE website, but consider carefully the mask and cartridge that is appropriate. consider the protection factor required (construction dust is requires a general level of 20). The protection factor is linked to the amount of dust breathed in, a mask of level 20 means you only breathe in a twentieth of of the amount of dust in the air for example.
Masks must be tight-fitting to the face, and to do so require a clean-shaven face. Check each time you put it on that it is still ‘face-fitting’. And make sure that masks are well looked after and filters are changed regularly as and when required.
To view our full range of dust masks, click through to the shop here.