Control of dust
While many construction workers are exposed to and work with concrete daily without any problems, through mixing, installation and removal of the material, both wet and dry concrete can pose hazards to workers.
Highways England’s control of dust document notes:
“Some of the most common construction jobs create high dust levels. These jobs often involve the use of power tools like cut-off saws, grinders, breakers and sanders or large equipment, for example batching plants or crushers/screener.”
Whether installing poured or sprayed concrete, dust can be produced in the mixing and installation stages. Where the water:cement ratio isn’t quite right, a fine layer of dust can also form on the surface of the concrete when set.
If a worker is exposed to the irritant repeatedly over a long time period, they can be at risk of illnesses such as occupational asthma or even chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), an airflow obstruction that’s not fully reversible. In extreme cases, repeated inhalation of cement dust can cause lung cancer.
Common methods for controlling the amount of dust produced includes ensuring appropriate and effective PPE is worn, such as face masks to prevent inhalation, and gloves and eye protection to avoid contact with the skin and eyes.
On many sites, where concrete is being removed or cut, additional equipment such as dust suppression systems are used. These systems disperse fine water droplets to capture airborne dust and dampen the surface of the concrete before and during cutting to reduce the risk of inhalation and creation of ‘nuisance dust’.
So called nuisance dust can be an issue in itself as it can cause damage to properties or disturbance to nearby communities. There is also a risk that the dust can settle on local watercourses and potentially have a negative impact on the ecology.
While some dust can be expected through normal handling and installation of Concrete Canvas®, it has a number of significant advantages over traditional concrete solutions in terms of dust control:
- CC arrives on site ready to install; there is no need for mixing or measuring, eliminating the dust production associated with this process with traditional concrete.
- CC is available in 5mm, 8mm and 13mm thick variants which typically replace 100-150mm of poured, sprayed or precast concrete. As a result, GCCMs are considerably lower in mass and cement content.
- CC can be installed using standard hand tools and can be installed up to ten-times faster than poured or sprayed concrete, meaning less time on site, less exposure for contractors and less risk of producing nuisance dust.
- Unlike traditional solutions, the cement used in CC has a limited alkaline reserve (below the US Environmental Protection Agency limits) and can therefore be installed directly into live watercourses with no adverse effect on the local ecology.
- As a lower mass solution, CC can also be removed more quickly and will produce less dust in the process.
CC does not meet the criteria for classification in any hazard class and is not classified as an irritant. As a result, it is safer to install than alternatives and the risks associated with long term exposure are lower.
However, Concrete Canvas Ltd does always recommend the use of general PPE when handling and installing the material to reduce contact with the skin or eyes, and prevent inhalation. As such, face masks, protective clothing and gloves should be worn.
For further information on safe use of Concrete Canvas® see our MSDS document.