Controlling exposure to hazards

Lesson Progress:
On-tool dust extraction

The following simple steps should be taken to protect you from respiratory hazards.

Avoid creating dust

Choosing the right equipment or method of work can protect workers’ lungs and potentially remove the risk altogether. Pre-order sized materials rather than cutting them on site, or use a block splitter rather than a disc cutter as this creates less dust and is quicker.

Stop the dust getting into the air

If the creation of dust cannot be eliminated then minimising the dust being released should be the priority. This can be done by capturing the dust or dampening down.

Petrol driven cut-off saw with water fed dust

Capturing the dust. Some materials (such as wood) do not suit the use of water to suppress dusts, so dust extraction should be considered. When your employer purchases or hires tools they should make sure that they have on-tool dust capture (extraction) wherever possible. Cleaning dust from work areas and tools is far better if a vacuum is used rather than sweeping with a brush.

Dampening down or wet cutting. This is the cheapest and most effective way of minimising exposure. Water helps to form a slurry that prevents the majority of dust becoming airborne. Not only does it reduce what is breathed in, but it also has the benefit of less cleaning up afterwards. It is important to keep the flow constant while wet cutting or grinding and to dampen down before clearing up.

Wear respiratory protection

Even the best control measures won’t prevent dust completely, so RPE should always be worn, even if you are using dust capture equipment (extraction) or wet cutting.

Refer to Chapter 5 Personal protective equipment for further information about RPE.