Why dust suppression is vital on your site

dust suppression liquid

The main component of sand and most rocks and soils, silica can be present in fine particles that can enter the lungs and cause serious health problems for construction workers.  PPE is just one way to control this hazard: responsible businesses are also using environmentally friendly dust suppression techniques to keep silica dust under control on site. 

How does silica become a health risk?

Silica is a common ingredient in different construction materials including concrete, mortar, composite stone, tiles and even some plastics.

When workers cut, crush, drill, polish, saw or grind products that contain silica, dust particles are generated that are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs and cause serious health repercussions. It’s common to see construction workers drilling, working or excavating in a cloud of dust, and if concrete, mortar or stone is involved, this can be a serious safety risk.

If workers are exposed to silica dust on site they run the risk of silicosis, emphysema, lung cancer, kidney damage and other life-altering conditions. PPE including well-fitted respiratory protection is important when working with any products or materials containing silica.

Dust hazards on site

The best solution, of course, is to limit the dust produced in the first place. Although many responsible employers do provide their team with appropriate PPE, there is a series of other hazard controls that should be reviewed first to see if dust hazards can be better managed on your site.

These include choosing different products that don’t contain silica, isolating the task, and other engineering controls such as using dust catching attachments when cutting hazardous materials.

However, often it is very difficult to substitute for an appropriate product or isolate the hazard when you’re working on a huge site that is exposed to the elements and at the mercy of the weather.

Even relatively mild winds can whip up dust across your site which can become a hazard to workers that are nowhere near the source of the silica. Staff working 100m away may not be wearing the necessary protection because they are not involved in that particular task – and yet, they can still potentially be exposed to this dangerous dust.

So what are the options for controlling silica dust on construction, infrastructure, mining and other large exposed sites?

Dust control with water or chemical suppression

Traditionally, water or binder formulations have been used to keep dust under control on-site, either by large-scale spray techniques or smaller more targeted spraying.

However, in our dry climate, it is not always the most environmentally responsible choice to use water in such a wasteful manner. Wet roads and surfaces don’t stay that way for long, and the application of water to roads can cause secondary hazards of vehicle slips and pooled water.

Other techniques on the market use chemicals or minerals to bind the dust particles together. These include proprietary blends of latex, polymers, styrene, acrylates and other substances that require less frequent application than water, however, their chemical makeup, particularly those based on magnesium chloride, can be a cause for concern on some sites.

A better solution: dust control with Road X2

Road-X2 is an environmentally friendly and non-corrosive engineered dust control agent that works by coating each soil particle without creating a crust on the surface that breaks up.

Road-X2 is a much cleaner and safer alternative to magnesium chloride-based products. It is simply mixed with water and applied with any spraying equipment. Once applied Road-X2 will typically last for a minimum of 3-6 months.

Effective even under harsh weather conditions on a wide variety of soil types, Road-X2 can be deployed on-site quickly and easily using a water cannon, tanker truck or hydro truck, spray bars, or smaller spraying equipment and hoses. This product can be used without negative impacts on the environment making it suitable for use in farming, horticultural and agricultural applications.

Simply dilute Road-X2 in water and apply at a rate of 1 – 1.5 litres per square metre. Road-X2 can be used on construction sites, remediation sites, unpaved roads, forestry roads, raw material stockpiles, quarries, mining sites, industrial yards and unpaved parking lots.

Dust Suppression Specifications

Find out more about silica at Safe Work Australia

Safe Work Australia has more information on silica. Always refer to the local regulations and requirements in your area. This information is a guide only.

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