Dust is a common hazard found in the construction industry, especially around demolition or refurbishment work. Demolition involves all different types of materials that could create hazardous dust (airborne contaminants), so understanding the risk your workers are exposed to will help you to identify how best to manage the risks.
Hazardous dust can cause a number of health conditions, including skin and eye infections, silicosis, lung cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). The effects of dust inhalation are not always immediately obvious, particularly when breathing it in, and can cause life long health issues or death.
Health and exposure monitoring
It is the businesses responsibility to have a process in place to monitor the health of their workers when exposed to health risks.
If you are finding that your workers health is deteriorating because of the work they are carrying out then it’s important to monitor their health. It can help identify whether the controls to manage hazardous dust are effective and are actually preventing harm. Health monitoring should include:
- collection of workers’ demographic, medical and occupational histories
- records of workers’ exposure
- a respiratory questionnaire
- respiratory function tests
- in some cases, chest x-ray or other radiological procedure
It is important that you get your worker’s consent to monitor their health and engage them in this process.
Health monitoring should be carried out by a trained and competent person. For more information or if you’d like to organise health monitoring for your business contact our partner Habit Health.
Controls to minimise the exposure to dust in the workplace could include:
- on tool dust extraction systems
- water suppression
- personal protective equipment (PPE)
Making sure your workers have the right tools and information to complete the job safely includes training and understanding the risks involved, what to do if anything should go wrong, as well as the correct use, storage, and maintenance of PPE.
Other controls to consider are:
- limiting the number of people near the work
- task rotation
- using sheeting or temporary screens to enclose the work to stop dust from escaping
Use of the HazardCo Demolition task analysis template, available from the HazardCo HUB, will provide you with additional controls that may be suitable for your work.
Our team of health and safety experts are just a call away if you have any questions or would like to discuss further