Dust suppression on construction sites

One of the more popular uses for our dust suppression control equipment is to minimise airborne dust on construction sites.

It’s not hard to imagine just how dusty these sites can get, especially in the drier, warmer months of the year, when it is much harder to control, especially if the wind picks up and the dust spreads.

The ramifications of not having a dust construction control procedure in place can be far-reaching to both human health and the environment. We take a look at why construction dust suppression on construction sites is so important.

Pre-construction dust

Before construction begins on a site, there are often pre-existing buildings that need to be demolished. Demolition is a major cause of dust and can create significant issues for the workers involved not to mention, those around and the environment.

Even if the site is isolated from the general public, this still doesn’t negate the need for effective construction dust suppression and odour control. The staff working on the demolition are an absolute priority. Suppressing the dust particles with atomised water droplets from either a water mist cannon or the revolutionary Jet Misting is the industry standard.

The volume of water mist, weather conditions and the type of dust need to be considered to maximise effectiveness.

During Construction

There are often lots of sources of dust created during construction – the type of dust depends on the material being used but general construction dust falls into three main categories:

  • Silica dust – a natural mineral found in sand, sandstone and granite. Also present in concrete and mortar
  • Non Silica dust – gypsum, cement, marble, limestone and dolomite
  • Wood dust – the dust that is produced when cutting and sanding timbers etc. Also present in MDF and chipboard

How is construction dust created?

If you consider the kind of dust created on a construction site, it is not hard to imagine how it is produced in such volumes.

Aside from demolition, there are a number of regular building tasks that can produce concerning levels of dust:

  • Cutting blocks, kerbs, flags etc
  • Dry sweeping sites
  • Cutting roof tiles
  • Chasing concrete, raking mortar
  • Grinding concrete or other materials
  • Cutting/sanding wood
  • Sanding plasterboard joints that have been taped and covered

The tools and equipment that are used in construction, which include cut-off saws, grinders and grit blasters can produce a substantial amount of dust very quickly.

Also, the methods used in building works such as dry sweeping kick up dust as opposed to vacuuming or wet brushing.

If you are working in enclosed spaces more dust will build up and the longer the work takes, the more dust will be created.

Effects of construction dust on human health

The most important consideration when considering dust suppression on construction sites is the threat to human health.

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees and members of the public to control substances that are hazardous to health under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 Act (COSHH).

This act regulates activities that might expose workers to construction dust, therefore you are legally required to ensure that a thorough risk assessment is carried out and that adequate dust suppression control procedures are put into place.

It is not just inside spaces that are cause for concern. Many people think that working outside is not an issue but in spaces where there is a large amount of airborne construction dust, the threat to health is still substantial and one that should not be dismissed.

Is construction dust a danger to passers-by?

While, as an employer, you want to limit the amount of dust you are creating for passers-by and the wider community, the priority has to be to staff who are exposed to the dust regularly.

If you have a team who are carrying out the same tasks day in, day out, over a period of time they are going to be breathing in a lot of dangerous dust particles.

For the occasional passer-by, the threat is nowhere near as great however, controlling the dust on a construction site should be the objective for all concerned.

Dust inhalation

When a building is demolished, the dust contained in brick, concrete, mortar, stone and drywall can contain crystalline silica particles. If these are inhaled by workers or passers-by, they can become embedded in the lungs.

Silica is extremely dangerous and can cause respiratory issues and even death. Diseases including lung cancer, asthma and cold are among the serious issues that can arise from the inhalation of silica dust.

Talc dust and asbestos dust can also lead to diseases. Dust can also be an irritant to the skin and eyes and lead to skin conditions. Fine dust can be greatly reduced by using water mist from hose lines with fogging nozzles fitted every 1 or 2 meters.

These can be positioned on boundary fencing or hoarding, scaffolding levels and in the warehouse ceiling and fed by a high-pressure water pump.

Environmental contamination

You may be wondering if dust is a danger to the environment and the answer is, it absolutely is.

Airborne dust particles, while microscopic and nanoscopic, actually get suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere, polluting the environment.

How can I protect my staff?

The best way to protect your staff, and the environment, from dust pollution is to exercise effective dust suppression and control.

This starts with a thorough risk assessment of the work involved and how much construction dust is likely to be created and where.

Then you can work with a dust suppression specialist to assess the equipment requirements for your project and decide which will be the best tools for the job.

This could be jet misting, fan-assisted misting or high-pressure fogging and misting. The team at Dustquip will be happy to assist with your project planning and advise on which equipment will be the most suitable for your particular needs.

Specialist equipment for dust suppression on construction sites

You can also check out our range of equipment for dust suppression on construction sites and odour control machinery here.