Precautions that are vital to avoid the negative effects of the dust formed while cutting concrete
Concrete cutting can be a dangerous job for many reasons. Operating sharp cutting tools in a noisy environment is bound to have some risks. One risk that is not as much discussed as others is the dangers of the dust that forms while cutting concrete. Crystalline silica is a substance formed in many elements, but it's not dangerous until it's released in the air. Breathing it in could cause respiratory disease and even cause a disease called silicosis, which is untreatable and might lead to death. To prevent this substance from ending up in your lungs, there are some precautions you can take.
Informing the employees
As crystalline silica is not always visible in the air when cutting concrete, it's important that your company makes sure to inform all the employees of the risks of crystalline silica. All employees need to be informed about any actions that are being taken to prevent diseases caused by crystalline silica. To make sure that everybody in the company follows these rules, the concrete cutting sector might need to be supervised until everybody knows the rules and restrictions by heart.
Wet cutting is a procedure that might bind the harmful dust to the water and prevent it from spreading into the air. If your company doesn't have wet cutting machines available, it might also be sufficient to hose the cutting area and material down before cutting. This should, however, be seen as a temporary solution, as some machines might not be equipped for wet cutting and could malfunction by doing this. It's suggested to invest in machines that can handle wet cutting.
A functioning vacuum system is also a solution to prevent spreading of crystalline silica in the air. The system should be mounted so that the operator of the cutting machine doesn't need to bother with directing the vacuum while cutting. Also make sure that the vacuum is equipped with a filter dense enough to catch even the smallest particles of dust.
Dust masks and respirators
As a complement to these procedures, you should also implement the use of personal protection equipment. Dust masks or respirators should be used at all times while cutting concrete. This should not be your primary method of dust control, as the masks can leak, letting the dust into your airways. Make sure that all employees are aware how to use the respirators and that they are used even by the people working nearby the concrete cutting. Dust can travel far through a room and affect people even far away from the source of the dust.