Anyone who’s ever tried cutting concrete will tell you that dust and noise are two of the biggest deterrents to the job.
Concrete dust containing silica and a variety of other hazardous materials can lead to severe breathing issues, and the high noise levels can damage hearing.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to control noise and dust associated with concrete cutting.
So what methods work best for controlling noise and dust? Dry cutting as everyone knows gives rise to large amounts of dust laden with silica, which is the single most health-damaging component of concrete dust. These abrasive tiny particles,
- Damage the lungs of a person
- Reduce the capacity to breath
- Leads to chronic breathing trouble
Continuous exposure to silica may lead to lung cancer, tuberculosis, and COPD.
Dust and noise associated with concrete cutting at construction sites are a serious health hazard leading to respiratory illness and hearing loss to the workers.
One of the crucial engineering controls for minimizing the damage and developing a healthy environment for workers is the application of the wet method of cutting concrete. Studies indicate that the use of water in relation to concrete cutting can reduce the concentration of hazardous dust to a staggering 85%.
“The wetter the better” seems to be the motto when it comes to concrete cutting. This is an evidence-based finding, so it is completely dependable.
According to a recent research, respirable geometric mean concentration of dust through dry cutting is approximately 14.396 mg/cubic meter, which is 10 times more than wet cutting projects.
The use of water hose during concrete cutting reduces the amount of silica dust to just under 1.1 mg/cubic meter. Spray control on the other hand, allows only 1.2 mg/cubic meter of silica dust to escape to air.
Studies undertaken in relation to various tools for concrete cutting have thrown up startling results, but all seem to indicate towards one thing.
Based on OSHA regulations, one should never use concrete gas powered saws for dry cutting.
The only exception can be made in cases where the construction firm is ready to take the onus for a sampling to ensure that dust exposure never increases above the allowed limits.
However, by knowing the exposure levels related to various concrete cutting projects as well as in relation to two different types of equipment used, it is possible to take the necessary precautions.
Through the use of the right respirators, it is possible to keep dust and noise exposure levels to a minimum. Regularly using water controls with concrete gas powered saws is an effective and proven way to reduce respirable dust levels significantly.
Aside from ensuring the safety of the workers, firms also need to ensure the well-being of the onlookers and other people present on-site.
In addition to using the right methods for concrete cutting, preferably the wet one, it is important to use the right precautions to ensure complete protection from dust and high decibels.
Here are some protective measures approved by OSHA for ensuring the best results related to concrete cutting projects without compromising the workers health:
A. Use of respirators: Respirators offer the best protection against dust laden with hazardous silica. Proper training related to this protective equipment is necessary to ensure optimal benefits. It is the job of the project manager to ensure effective training.
B. Use of safety glasses: Use of proper safety glasses is extremely necessary to keep the eyes protected throughout the cutting process.
C. Good quality headgear: When you are protecting all the parts of your body during concrete cutting, it is important to consider a good quality headgear too. A hard hat forms a barrier against falling objects, so its importance should never be underestimated.
D. Proper hearing protection: Proper hearing protection, such as earmuffs and earplugs are another must have when it comes to concrete cutting sites. However, it is important to replace them on a regular basis to avoid chances of getting ear infection. Also, proper training in this regard is necessary.
E. Use of proper foot protection: The wearing of proper footgear is extremely necessary for protection against twisted ankles or abrasions of any kind. Over-the-ankle leather solid boots are a good choice.
Studies indicate that the use of wet cutting methods for concrete is the best way to keep workers safe from the hazardous dust.
However, for ensuring better control of noise, it is important to use high-quality equipment and maintain them in good order. This, along with the use of the right protection is a surefire way to maintain optimal construction place conditions.