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Dust Suppression During Civil Construction

February 9, 2015 0 Comments

Dust Suppression on a Civil Construction Site is important to avoid damage to worker’s health, machinery and the environment.

Excavation and demolition tasks involved with building infrastructure are notorious for creating major dust challenges. Even driving vehicles over a Civil Works Site can cause dust clouds. On top of that, materials used with the actual construction, involving cement or gypsum bases, create further health risks.

Let’s look at the affects dust has upon three components of a Civil Construction Project: Machinery, Workers, and Finances. Then we’ll cover methods of dust suppression and the impact on the environment.

How Dust Affects Machinery

Dust particles build up and create a layer over machinery and equipment. This reduces air flow and can contribute to the equipment overheating. If you are using touch screen equipment, you might find it no longer responds to your commands. And a laptop will quickly heat up and malfunction if the ventilation area is clogged.

With a caking of dust, breakdowns or slippage will soon occur in any machine that has moving parts. Skidding of vehicles over dusty paths and tracks is another concern. Dust can also contribute to false or inaccurate readings from equipment.

A quick wipe-down or spray over does little to get rid of the dust, because as murphy’s law would have it – dust will find its way into every nook and cranny you can’t access. And when dust and moisture combine… you can expect long term damage as corrosion takes place. Dust also absorbs moisture, and the higher the humidity, the more moisture it will absorb.

How Dust Affects Humans

Dust can create severe lung disorders and diseases. The global term for these is pneumoconiosis.

To be effective with dust management you should consider all airborne dusts as harmful. Apart from the lung damage, asthmatics and allergy prone people suffer, and eyes, ears, nose, throat, and skin can be irritated.

Asbestos is a well-known and toxic dust creator, and other potentially harmful dusts include:

  • wood dust,
  • silica (the most harmful particles found in dust within mines) which can cause the condition ‘Silicosis’. Silicoses can lead to heart failure and tuberculosis,
  • sugar cane fibre,
  • carborundum (silicon carbide),
  • diatomite,
  • talc, and
  • cotton dust

If effective dust control is not present, each of these products can create lung damage.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that because you can’t see the dust, there is no danger. The most harmful dust is less than 5 microns in size. Dust particles larger than that are often caught in the naturally forming mucus which coats the nose, sinuses, trachea and bronchi. The particles are carried by the mucus to the throat where they are either swallowed or spat out. Dust particles less than 5 microns can pass into the lungs, damaging tissue and causing fibrosis.

Further workplace safety issues are involved as dust can reduce visibility dramatically. Consider the hazards of driving vehicles or using machinery in low visibility conditions.

How Dust Affect Costs Associated with a Civil Works Site

Dust Hazard on Civil Construction Site

(c) Copyright 2015. Image courtesy of Soilbond

Dust accumulation can have an adverse affect on the costings of a project – whether it be Civil Construction or not.

Costs include:

  • unnecessary repair of machinery, or even replacement of machinery
  • time off when due to illness of workers
  • over-use of water as a dust reduction strategy
  • possible workplace fines due to violation of mandatory compliance levels

For compliance levels please visit:

Safe Work Australia – Exposure Standards

Safe Work Australia – Hazardous Substances Information System webpage

Controlling Dust on Civil Works Sites

As with the majority of situations – “prevention is better than cure”. Putting a strategy in place to reduce dust is better than dealing with it later.

Dust Reduction Strategies could include:

  • providing paved surfaces where practical
  • reducing vehicle speed across the site
  • reducing the amount of vehicles used onsite
  • restricting vehicle movement to defined roads or tracks
  • cleaning up and disposing of sawdust and other dust creating debris as soon as possible
  • ensuring proper ventilation of working places
  • providing dust-free break-out rooms for workers
  • enclosing dusty machinery
  • extracting dust of enclosed areas with an effective exhaust system
  • where there is a risk of inhaling dust, encourage workers to wear approved respirators
  • watering down loads before leaving the loading site
  • watering roads, tracks, bins and stockpiles
  • being flexible with work times according to weather conditions, ie. high wind speeds, etc.
  • using wet methods for cutting concrete rather than using friction saws
  • using environmentally friendly dust suppression service providers…

Environmentally Friendly Dust Suppression

Soilbond Dust Suppression Solution

(c) Copyright 2015. Image courtesy of Soilbond

The environment and your impact upon it during Civil Construction Projects also applies to the Dust Suppression Strategies you put in place. The aim is to protect workers, machinery, use cost-effective dust suppression methods, and protect the environment.

Soilbond® is an environmentally friendly dust suppression product. It is an ethical and ecological alternative to petroleum products and chlorides. Petroleum products seep into soils and contaminate underground water, creating serious health issues for humans and poisoning underground organisms. Chloride harms vegetation. It is also corrosive. It damages metal, is abrasive to house floors, finishes and carpet. It too travels through surfaces and into ground water causing further problems.

The principal ingredient in Soilbond® is a waste product from the processing of timber to produce pulp for paper manufacture. This natural sticky material creates a binding effect which stabilises what it is added to.

Soilbond® is specially formulated into an easily handled liquid product. It can be used as a Stabiliser (mixed with Granitic Sand) and then compacted. This method is recommended if there are preliminary works on a Civil Construction Site such as temporary paths, tracks or unsealed Road.

The natural wood by-product in Soilbond® has no solubility in water. So it won’t be flushed out of roads or paths under wet conditions. Therefore there are no concerns about adverse environmental effects from its use.

Soilbond® is manufactured in Melbourne, Australia and is proving to be a popular environmentally friendly dust suppression product. For more information visit the Soilbond website.

In summary: Dust undermines the health of people, workings of machinery and the longevity of the environment. It also increases costs associated with Civil Construction Projects. What are you doing to keep it under control?

Filed in: On Site

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