Managing dust on construction sites

Construction site dust isn’t just a nuisance. It can have an impact on the environment and public health unless you use proper dust management strategies to control construction site dust. The dust can occur from a number of different places such as the cutting of materials or the sanding or grinding of Kent Ready Mix Concrete  ready for a new layer to be put down.

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Water suppression

Water is the most common form of dust suppression thanks to its affordability and effectiveness. However, water must be used throughout the process for best results and should be applied several times a day. Be aware that excess water runoff can also cause environmental problems like erosion. Dry sweeping should be avoided as much as possible, so ensure dust is water-damped before being swept.

On-tool dust extraction

The HSE recommend this type of vacuum extraction as a way to directly minimise dust on a construction site. The extraction unit should be properly rated for the equipment rather than using a general vacuum system, and it should always be used in conjunction with the correct respiratory protective equipment.

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Dust collection

For small-scale construction, a dust control system  can keep harmful sawdust under control. A galvanised steel system that is conductive and easily grounded will minimise the risk of dust explosion. If construction is taking place where ductwork is installed but not yet activated, ensure that all pipework is thoroughly cleaned and inspected before the system is put into service to clear remaining construction dust from the site.

Tackifiers and polymers

Both polymers and tackifiers can be used as soil stabilisers during construction, bonding with the soil to form a flexible crust or non-hardened bond that prevents soil erosion and controls dust. Mulch and vegetation perform a similar task in a more sustainable way, though using seeds for soil stabilisation can result in a 50 per cent seed loss to birds. Stone may also be used as an effective mulch where vegetation has difficulty establishing itself; in areas of high wind, larger stones are more effective.

Barrier methods

For large-scale construction sites, the use of fencing is a savvy way to control wind-borne dust. Large trees, hedges or even perennial grasses like bamboo could also be used as windbreaks. Barriers help to prevent both soil erosion and air pollution through harmful construction dust and should be placed at right angles to the prevailing wind direction, at intervals around 15 times the height of the barrier itself.