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Why Dust Monitoring is Essential for your Business
blog 27 Oct 2021
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is stepping up efforts to increase awareness that dust can kill, with a month-long site inspection initiative.
During October, HSE site inspections are taking place across the UK to ensure that construction firms are protecting workers from respiratory risks and occupational lung disease caused by construction dust. Sites of all types and sizes are being visited to check that appropriate measures are in place to protect workers’ lung health from exposure to dust.
Effects of dust on health and the wider environment
Construction workers die every week from lung diseases caused by exposure to dust and many more suffer from severe chronic long-term lung conditions. You can read more about this in our Dust can kill. Don’t risk your long-term health blog.
But dust emissions from construction activities don’t necessarily just impact on workers within the site itself, they can also cause nuisance outside site boundaries. Dust can cause annoyance to nearby residents by the soiling of windows, cars and washed clothes hung out to dry.
In terms of air quality, fine dust particles (less than 10 micrometres in diameter, known as PM10) are now recognised as significant causes of pollution. Due to their small size, they can be carried from sites even in light winds and may have an adverse effect on the local environment and the health of local residents. Dust can also prove harmful to local wildlife and plants.
Construction site operators therefore need to demonstrate that dust emissions from their sites are adequately monitored and controlled.
Even though dust is now a major issue across the construction industry – as evidenced by the HSE’s inspection campaign – some confusion does exist around the regulations and British Standards relating to dust and air quality, and it is clear that more guidance is required across the industry. Often times the primary reference point in The Control of Pollution Act 1974, however the HSE have also provided some useful guidance and resources to help you ensure you are complying with existing regulations:
- Workplace exposure limits Workplace exposure limits - COSHH (hse.gov.uk)
- COSHH G409 Exposure Sampling Measurement Air Sampling COSHH G409 (hse.gov.uk)
- HSE: Methods for the Determination of Hazardous Substances (MDHS) - Methods for the determination of hazardous substances guidance (hse.gov.uk)
- HSG173 Monitoring strategies for toxic substance Monitoring strategies for toxic substances (hse.gov.uk)
Methods of dust monitoring
In years gone by, dust was often measured using a low cost, sticky pad gauge for site boundary dust monitoring. However, this method is now considered low tech and inaccurate, as the data provided is retrospective, whereas today’s advanced dust monitoring solutions provide data in real-time so appropriate action can be taken if needed.
More modern, innovative methods of dust monitoring use advanced scattered light measurement technology. These instruments project a light and detect light scattered back from the dust in order to detect very low levels of dust. They are able to measure the dust particulate size and the quantity of dust in real-time.
Online dust monitoring in real-time
Instruments such as the Casella Guardian2 Monitor can provide online monitoring of dust, noise and vibration in a single unit. Reports can be readily produced for site dust compliance purposes and the system provides alerts via text message or email if limits are exceeded. This helps contractors decide if they need to stop works or implement dust control measures.
The Casella Guardian2 Monitor even has the ability to automatically trigger dust suppression equipment if set dust levels are exceeded. There are also personal wearable units such as those manufactured by Trolex and handheld dust monitoring devices such as the Casella Microdust Pro. This is a handheld, data logging instrument which is ideal for walk-through surveys and for checking the effectiveness of dust and air quality control measures.
Other units available include the Casella Dust Detective. An ideal survey tool for site operators and managers who have a requirement for area monitoring inside or outside the site boundary, it is capable of measuring total inhalable dust, fine dust particles such as PM10 and PM2.5, and respirable fractions.
PM2.5 is particulate matter that is incredibly small. A single particle has a diameter of less that 2.5 micrometres, which means you can easily fit 40 fine dust particles across the width of a single strand of hair!
The Casella Dust Detective generates graphs and summary data allowing users to easily identify trends in the dust levels, hotspots and areas of concern and to make informed decisions and action as necessary.
Long-term dust monitoring solutions
At Sunbelt Rentals, we work alongside our customers to provide effective long-term dust monitoring solutions. In many cases, we place dust monitoring units on site even before construction work has started.
This allows us to gauge the dust and air quality levels prior to work commencing. In a current example, we have placed a total of six Casella Guardian2 Monitors on one site for a period of six weeks to allow us to do background checks. We can then use the data to form a comparison when work actually starts on site.
For further advice about how you can effectively monitor and control dust on site, contact our experts on 01543 364121
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