Out of all the health hazards found on a construction site, dust is by far the most unnoticed one. Every year, thousands of construction workers in Singapore and other parts of the world are hospitalised after being exposed to airborne contaminants such as wood, brick, stone, and metal dusts, along with asbestos and crystalline silica. Constant exposure to high concentrations of these fine airborne particles increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, respiratory diseases, auto-immune diseases, kidney failure and most dangerously, lung cancer.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to keep your workers safe from all these health hazards. You need to think of ways to eliminate, isolate, and manage dust at your construction site and this may include sending your workers to attend CSOC courses in Singapore, in order to increase their understanding of various health hazards found on a construction site and how to keep themselves protected. Here are some strategies you can use to manage dust concentration levels at your construction site, to safeguard the health and safety of your workers:
Firstly, if possible, you should think of ways to eliminate the hazard. Try screening and isolating the entire cutting, grinding, and sanding activity to confined areas. Additionally, you need to install industrial vacuum systems in the same areas where they can be used to expunge the dust away efficiently and without contaminating other areas. By applying these measures, you can greatly eliminate the spread of harmful dust particles to the other areas.
You can also manage dust concentration at your worksite by substituting materials or equipment that produces less harmful byproducts. So, instead of using silica, you can use a less hazardous material such as thermoset plastic on the construction site. Standardise the material list throughout the entire construction site to ensure the safety guidelines are observed. In this way, substitution to safer materials is applied consistently.
There are many instances where you can employ engineering controls to manage fine dust particles on your construction site. Use of water atomizers near areas of dust generation is a classic example of this strategy. Similarly, you can also install heavy duty humidifiers at your construction site where all the cutting, grinding, and dusting activity is carried out. This will not only settle the fine dust particles, it will also prevent the dust from remaining airborne for hours. Alternatively, you can try to fit specialised dust-suppression water systems with the cutting, grinding, sanding and other equipment, to ensure that the dust generated in the process is captured at the source.
Encourage use of PPE
Usually the most basic step that you need to take to safeguard your workers from the health hazards of dust, is to enforce the use of personal protective equipment. Ensure that they follow the precautions strictly and at no point should there be lapses or defects in their protective gear. Provide your workers with the best available respirators that comply with the health and safety standards to minimize their exposure to dust, and also ensure that your workers attend CSOC courses in Singapore, to increase their awareness of potential hazards at a construction site and ways to effectively manage them.