Concrete cutting is a potentially messy job which generates high amounts of silica-containing dust. Lack of proper dust control methods at the workplace may lead to you breathing in this fine dust, which poses a variety of threats including a chronic lung disease known as silicosis. This disease results in the scarring and widening of the lungs, and can lead to death. Eye irritation effects ranging from redness to possible blindness as well as noise and throat irritation are also some of the potential health risks when cutting concrete. This article looks at the appropriate dust control systems which can significantly reduce dust exposure when used by trained operators.
Engineering control systems
Wet systems may be used on concrete cutting saws powered by compression air or combustion engines, but not with electrically operated saws. This is because moist or damp environments pose a threat of electrocution when using electrically powered saws. Wet suppression systems entail spraying water onto the diamond cutting blade through spray heads or jets usually fastened to parallel sides of the guard to cut down on dust emissions. Water reduces the dust intensity that the cutting disk produces during concrete cutting. A control valve is tasked with regulating the water supply. Contemporary cut-off saws feature an attachment to which a pressurised water bottle or a main water supply may be secured. To optimise dust control, consistent water flow rates of at least 0.5 litres per minute ought to be maintained.
Local exhaust ventilation
This method is appropriate for all hand-held cutting saws including electrically powered ones. It uses the cut-off saw's guard as a dust collecting cap. The guard is attached to a vacuum cleaner which provides adequate exhaust ventilation to trap plenty of the dust released during concrete cutting operation. Essentially, local exhaust ventilation acts to trap dust particles at the cutting blade or disc. Guards that feature flexible inner sleeves are ideal as they maximise enclosure and can accommodate a variety of cut depths. Unlike the above mentioned wet dust control systems, local exhaust ventilation doesn't generate wet slurry.
Personal protective equipment
In addition to the above mentioned engineering dust control systems, the use of personal protective equipment should also be encouraged. Respirators help to prevent inhalation of silica-containing dust. Workers should put on approved safety goggles as well as ear defenders during cutting operations. Moreover, workers should also wear work coveralls that don't retain dust.
For more information, contact a concrete specialist, such as Ellcon.