Housekeeping Practices and Engineering Controls to Reduce Silica Dust Levels


Crystalline silica can cause respiratory problems if inhaled as dust. And even though it looks like dust, respirable crystalline silica is much worse for workers’ lungs. In reality, silica dust is known to cause cancer, and breathing it in can scar tissue in the lungs and make them less effective. Taken as a whole, this highlights why it’s crucial to follow safe work procedures when it comes to exposure to respirable crystalline silica. One of these rules is to follow OSHA rules for controlling respirable crystalline silica, which can keep workers from getting sick or hurting their lungs. You can lower the amount of silica dust in the air in a number of ways, for instance, by using BossTek equipment that generates less dust and wearing the right equipment to protect your lungs.


By adopting local exhaust ventilation, you can prevent the spread of silica dust (LEV). An LEV is  a vacuum cleaner connected to a piece of equipment that has a dust shroud. This system collects dust at or near its source, preventing it from migrating to an area where people can breathe it in. When LEV systems are used with tuckpointing, concrete grinders, and cut-off saws, they work very well. Using them can cut the amount of crystalline silica dust you breathe in by a factor of five to twenty. The vacuum creates suction to remove dust right where it settles. For the most significant dust control results, place the hood so that it is in contact with the materials that will be cut.


Silica dust can be difficult to get rid of. Even with good ventilation, dust collectors, and moist treatments, dust particles will still be around, ready to fly with the slightest draft or sweep. You’ll need a rigorous housekeeping regimen to keep the dust under control. Under the new standard, the only ways to clean a home that are allowed are vacuuming with equipment that meets strict filter criteria and using water to keep dust levels low (wet procedures). Since wet methods and vacuuming are recommended, you can’t use dry sweeping, dry brushing, or compressed air.

Dust containment systems

There are different ways to keep dust from spreading. The best option for you will depend on your facility’s design, your application, and your risk assessment, among other things. In a large building, for example, a building-wide dust collection system could be put in place to remove and clean the dirty air all the time. If you only have a few dust-producing devices, you can attach a portable dust collector to a dust shroud and mount it directly on the machinery. With the help of your risk and hazard analysis, you’ll be able to figure out exactly where you should focus your efforts.

Wet methods

In construction and other industries, dry drilling and cutting could be standard procedures. They are, however, not the only option. Wet methods are preferable in some situations. Before beginning a dust-generating process like drilling or cutting, the area can be sprayed with water (or similar liquid agents). Wet work can’t be done in every situation. For instance, if you’re working in a space with electrical components, you should generally stay away from any sources of water. There are different OSHA fact sheets for various industries that talk about wet and dry work practices.

The best control methods for your workplace depend on your industry, how you do your job, and how likely you are to be exposed. To keep your workers safe from silica dust, you will probably need to use more than one control measure.

Raul Scott

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