Published : 02/09/2016 12:37:01
Categories : Sunrise Updates
Hands up who wants to work in a dirty, dusty environment - you wouldn't expect a big show of hands. So now explain why such conditions are willingly accepted in the construction workplace, when even a basic level of site house-keeping could eliminate much of this nuisance and make life more bearable.
Mention the word COST and people take notice. Mention the words HEALTH & SAFETY and they go into raptures about some ridiculous regulation or ‘job’s worth’ and invariably miss the point. Dust can cost you your HEALTH. We’ve all heard about the issues of dust in the mining industry and how the effects only surface much later in life. There’s plenty of dust-related health risks in today’s construction environment with the same potential long-lasting consequences.
My father was a builder in rural Ireland, working on farm buildings, house extensions and general maintenance. For most of his working life, he never owned any power tools. Wood was cut, planed, drilled and shaped with hand tools. Concrete blocks, clay pipes and bricks were cut by deft use of a hammer, may'be with the aid of a bolster chisel. In all of this, he probably created a lot of sweat but very little dust.
Power tools are now available for every conceivable construction task. They are highly efficient, produce consistent and accurate results and generally reduce physical effort. They also have the potential to create large amounts of dust. Some have provision for containing and extracting dust, with guards, shields and connection ports for ‘hoovers’ (dust extractors). Sadly most of these facilities are little used – the tradesman often considers the inconvenience of an attached hose not worth the effort and a dust pan and brush are easier to carry (and cheaper) than a ‘hoover’. If only they understood the true COST of dust to themselves and others:
So what’s the answer? Of course there are many solutions and the most appropriate will depend upon the scale of the problem:
But remember, Personal Protection Equipment is entirely Personal – it protects ONLY the wearer.
Dust Control and Dust Extraction facilities are inherent in many power tools or can be added. The underlying principle is that dust should be captured at source. So attaching a ‘hoover’ to a suitably shielded wood saw should mean that the majority of dust, and perhaps the waste products, will be captured at the cutting edge, before they can become dispersed into the atmosphere.
In principle, a ‘hoover’ or general purpose vacuum cleaner can be connected to a suitably equipped power tool and you’ll be able to grab the dust before it spews into the atmosphere. In practice, you might get this effect for the first four or five minutes with a general purpose ‘hoover’. Thereafter performance will drop off drastically:
By contrast, an industrial specification dust extractor is likely to be equipped with a variety of facilities to ensure it is fit for purpose.
In the final analysis, the most important and lasting benefit is the reduction in the health risks associated with the fine dust particles generated by various construction activities – working mortars, plasters and many engineered wood products with power tools can generate dust products that are highly undesirable, even at moderate exposure levels.
And as it happens, it is arguably no more expensive to collect dust at source, than it is to deal with the widespread mess afterwards.