Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Concrete Cutting24 Apr 2021 - Flaaim
Concrete cutting is the removal or modification of concrete by way of sawing and drilling by trained operators. Concrete cutting is dangerous because it requires precision and accuracy. Skilled operators must consider the age and mix of the concrete and the weather conditions before removing or modifying the concrete. These factors can determine the method and type of concrete cutting equipment utilized. Making mistakes can result in messy work or damage to equipment.
There are two methods of cutting concrete, and they each come with their benefits. The most environmentally friendly method of cutting concrete is wet sawing, and this is where the blade is kept cool with water to limit the production of dust particles. Dry sawing is mainly used in large scale outdoor projects and creates an enormous amount of dust particles. This method often utilizes diamond blades or wires as they do not get overheated.
A concrete cutter will also have to determine and advise of the technique used during the client briefing. The most common procedures are wire sawing, diamond sawing, core drilling, slab sawing and wall sawing. No matter the procedure chosen, construction workers will be exposed to dust particles that will contain crystalline silica.
Crystalline silica becomes harmful when exposed to air. Silicosis is an incurable lung disease in which it reduces the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. It occurs when crystalline silica is inhaled, becomes trapped in the lungs and forms scar tissue. Concrete cutters who inhale silica dust particles also have a higher chance of contracting kidney disease and lung cancer. Construction workers can also develop hearing loss as much of the equipment used are extremely noisy. These diseases and impairments are preventable once proper personal protective equipment is employed.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggested three methods of controlling exposure to silica particles during the cutting of concrete. These methods are engineering controls, administrative actions and the more temporary solution of using personal protective equipment.
Workers should be trained in the proper use of PPE’s and must be selected and fitted correctly. Depending on the technique of cutting concrete and layout of the job site, the following PPE’s are to be used:
A respirator can either be air-purifying or air-supplied and is worn to prevent the inhalation of silica dust particles, poisonous fumes, gases and fumes.
2. Safety Glasses
Safety goggles fit tight around the face and protect the eyes from dust, flying debris and splashes.
3. Hard Hat
Hard hats are made to protect the wearers’ head from falling objects and absorb the impact force in the event of a fall.
4. Safety Uniforms/High Visibility Clothing
Construction workers are required to wear safety uniforms/high visibility clothing to be easily identified. Many construction projects take place in areas that have pedestrians and motorists.
5. Hearing Protectors
Hearing protectors reduce the level of noises and, in turn, reduces the damage to the inner ear.
6. Protective footwear
Protective footwear varies in design based on the job and is worn to protect the bones and tendon of the foot.