Concrete finishing is dirty work. From cuts to grinds and from wet to dry, no matter what option you choose there’s going to be a significant amount of cleanup to do after the job is complete. One of the great benefits of using wet blades and grinders is the reduction of concrete dust in the air. Yes, the surrounding area gets wet, but at least you aren’t inhaling toxic dust.
Particle dust created through concrete grinding and sawing finds its way into all of the small spaces of your job site. In the past, the clean-up of these dust particles was tedious and time-consuming. Nowadays tool manufacturers understand the hazards faced by contractors and construction workers due to concrete dust and have adapted tools to control the release of dust particles into the air.
Why Is Concrete Dust Dangerous?
The purpose of grinding concrete is to remove imperfections in the concrete. As the grinder does its magic by smoothing and polishing the concrete floor, the bits of concrete that are ground away need to go somewhere. Because the particles of dust are so small and lightweight, they are easy to inhale. These fine particles are actually called respirable crystalline silica and are approximately 100 times smaller than an ordinary grain of sand. When inhaled never known to cause silicosis, which is an incurable lung disease. Respirable crystalline silica has also been known to cause cancer, tuberculosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). All of these are serious medical issues that should be avoided at all costs.
These particles of concrete dust are deemed dangerous by the government and certain standards were created by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the 1960s to ensure workers’ safety. The guidelines required of contractors include:
- Implement an exposure control plan;
- Proper training on how to limit exposure; and
- Offering medical exams, chest X-rays, and lung function tests to workers wearing a respirator for 30 or more days a year.
Not only are these particles hazardous to the construction workers, but they are also dangerous to any of the people who live or work in the job location. These fine particles can travel and land anywhere, leaving residents and/or employees at risk of disturbing the settled dust and inhaling the particles. It is crucial as part of the cleanup for contractors to ensure their workers make their best efforts to fully rid the job location of any remaining concrete dust.
Tips for Protecting Yourself from Concrete Dust
There are many things contractors and construction workers can do to protect themselves from the hazards of respirable concrete dust. The first step is to ensure everyone working at or near the site is wearing a respirator. It is critical that workers understand which respirator is right for the job. Different respirators block out different-sized particles. Educate yourself on the differences and ensure you are using the correct one for your specific job.
Another way to minimize free-range hazardous dust particulates is to capitalize on the advancements in tool technology and upgrade your toolbox with top-of-the-line dust collection systems. One such dust collection system is the U.S. Saws Ultra Vac 1250 Dust Collector which has changed the game for contractors. This state-of-the-art dust collection system comes equipped with:
- Top-of-the-line large HEPA (or High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which are capable of filtering out about 99.7% of various airborne particulates, even concrete dust
- Two 120V motors provide extra sucking power
- Durable steel frames that can withstand constant use
- High-capacity dust bins allow you to reduce the number of times needed to empty the bin, which always risks releasing more dust back into the air
- Front and rear handles for effortless transport
- It is OSHA certified
These high-powered performers allow contractors to completely clean the project site after a long afternoon of surface prep.
Contact U.S. SAWS today to ensure your dust collection system meets not only your job’s needs but is also OSHA certified.