Dust Control for demolition

The control of dust must never be ignored during a demolition project. At Downwell it is one of our top priorities with any projects we undertake.

Dust Control – the dangers if not applied

Dust Control – the dangers posed by concrete dust in construction applications were largely ignored until recent years. In the United States of America, they were highlighted in some detail 50 years ago by an industrial hygienist called by Marion Trice. She was not the first one to recognise the problems.

Going back to 1700, Bernardino Ramazzini said dust that “dust would come to be proved fatal to stonecutters who took no precautions.

Dust Particles

Dust is a term to describe minute particles with a diameter of fewer than 500 icons in diameter.

When it comes to demolition dust particles are much bigger in size. When it comes to occupational health, something we monitor very carefully throughout the Downwell Group, airborne dust particles are categorised in size by being either respirable or inhalable.

Respirable dust is small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs; these are usually identified as particles under ten microns (PM-10). These tiny solids will penetrate far into the lungs and are almost certainly above the body’s natural cleaning mechanisms called cilia and mucous membranes.

In contrast, the larger dust particles in the inhalable dust classification are usually trapped in the nose, throat or upper respiratory tract. Human hair typically ranges from 50-75 microns in diameter, highlighting that the most hazardous dust particles are the ones too small to see.

There is a guidance sheet on dust in construction that can be accessed here

Dust Control during Demolition

In demolition and construction, there are generally three types of dust created, which are:

  1. Silica Dust – created from materials like concrete, mortar and sandstone.
  2. Wood dust – more common in construction methods
  3. General Dust – created from materials such as gypsum, limestone, marble and dolomite

All the categories can cause Lung Cancer, Silicosis, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma

All our workers wear PPE that includes eye protection, and face masks (RPE) Face masks specifications are

  • adequate for the amount and type of dust. RPE has a protection factor (APF) which shows the protection it gives the wearer. The level for construction dust is an APF of 20. This means the wearer will only breathe in a twentieth of the dust found in the air;
  •  suitable for the working environment – disposable masks can become uncomfortable to wear for long durations. Powered RPE helps reduce this. 
  • compatible with other items of protective equipment;
  •  fits the user. Face fit testing is needed for tight-fitting RPE
  • to be worn correctly. anyone wearing a mask has to be clean-shaven

When it comes to the control of dust during operations, Downwell employs

This is supported by dust monitoring equipment that is positioned around the site boundaries and is in operation 24/7. If levels of dust rise above permitted HSE levels work will stop.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement - Wednesday 25th March

The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday evening signalled the introduction of more stringent restrictions on us all and has specifically indicated that members of the public should only leave their home for very limited purposes. The message indicates that we should travel to and from work, only where this is absolutely necessary.

The management of the Downwell Group of companies which includes: Downwell Demolition, Inner City Environmental and Inner City Scaffolding has very carefully considered both the meaning and the spirit of the Prime Minister’s statement and whilst there has been some clarification from government subsequently that building sites could continue to operate, we came to the very clear decision yesterday that it was necessary for us, as a responsible contractor, to safely and securely close down our operational sites as soon as reasonably possible. Doing so will assist in maintaining the wellbeing of our customers, employees, sub-contractors, suppliers and the wider communities within which we build.

All sites have been closed down in a safe and secure manner and will remain closed until further notice.

We would like to take this opportunity of thanking all the key workers on the frontline who are continiung working for the good of us all.