Introduction: Concrete Dust Safety
I recently applied an epoxy coating to my garage floor. The surface needed to be prepped with a tool that I rented at a local hardware store. It is essentially a floor buffer with a diamond paddle attachment. It was told it had to be run dry with a vacuum attachment. The vacuum did not collect a lot of dust and I later learned that the machine could be run wet. Unfortunately, even though I was wearing a respirator, I inhaled a lot of dust and it make me quite sick. I'd like others to avoid my mistakes.
I am no expert, but here are a few key points to consider when working with concrete dust through grinding, cutting, drilling, or any operation.
Conduct your own research to make an informed decision on the work you do.
Step 1: Understand the Risk
Research concrete dust (silica) and its effect on the body.
Determine your level of exposure.
Determine the appropriate safety precautions, such as wearing a respirator, running the operation wet to reduce dust, and using the appropriate dust collection system. These particles can be very fine and not every vacuum system will be able to collect them.
Step 2: Equipment
I was wearing a respirator, but when I was finished with the work I found dust inside, so I did not have a good fit. Even one day of beard growth will compromise your seal, you must be clean shaven. Perform a positive and negative leak check. Perform some activity and test again to make sure the mask does not easily come loose. Overall, follow the instructions provided by the respirator manufacturer. If you do this for a living follow your employer's regulations.
Additionally, choose the right filter cartridge. Recognize that depending on the concentration and duration of the hazard a well-fitted mask may still not be good enough to reduce your risk.
Ensure your dust collection system can handle the particle size. If the filter clogs do not bang it out in the open, releasing a cloud of dust.
Whatever tool you are using it is best to run wet (WITH APPROPRIATE CONSIDERATIONS FOR ELECTRICAL SAFETY) to reduce the release of dust.
Step 3: Summary
If you are purchasing the appropriate protective equipment and tools and renting machines for a one time job it may be comparable in price to hire a licensed company. Consider the risk when you look at the bottom line.
Conduct your own research to make your own informed decision on the work that you do. Don't let a poorly fitted mask be a false sense of security.
Thanks for reading.