Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NIOSH Finds Practical Solution to Controlling Hazardous Dust

A new NIOSH publication recommends attaching a regular shop vacuum to a dust-collecting circular saw to produce a low-cost solution for reducing exposure to hazardous dust produced when construction workers cut fiber-cement siding.

According to the agency, the use of fiber-cement siding in construction is growing rapidly. Fiber-cement products can contain as much as 50% crystalline silica that, when cut, can create fine dust particles that a worker can inhale. Breathing dust that contains crystalline silica can lead
to a deadly lung disease called silicosis, which kills nearly 100 people each year. Although relatively dust-free methods exist for cutting fiber-cement products, a power saw is the quickest and most precise method for cutting fiber-cement siding.

According to a NIOSH study, uncontrolled exposure to respirable crystalline silica while cutting fiber-cement board can result in an exposure up to 2.6 times the NIOSH recommended limit. Attaching a regular shop vacuum to a dust-collecting circular saw can reduce that exposure and protect workers from a potentially deadly disease.

Workplace Solutions: Reducing Hazardous Dust Exposure when Cutting Fiber-Cement Siding” offers additional controls regarding the local exhaust ventilation system, circular saws and circular saw blades, work practices and respirators and is available on NIOSH’s website.