Construction sites contain hazardous chemicals, dust, and toxic fumes. These substances are harmful to those working on construction sites and can cause long-term health problems. Respiratory hazards are a problem on construction sites and should be managed adequately.
Nearly 12,000 people die from lung disease per year, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Construction workers are particularly vulnerable to respiratory diseases because of their exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes. In fact, 3,000 construction workers suffer from breathing and lung issues caused by work every year.
Simple tasks, like grinding brick and drilling, can release all kinds of gases and dust. If carbon monoxide is released, it can make you unconscious and kill you within minutes.
Industrial PPE can significantly reduce the risk harmful fumes pose to construction workers. Invest in high-quality respiratory protective equipment to keep you and your employees safe at work. Employers are required by law to protect their employees and minimise their exposure to potentially hazardous materials.
When choosing the best respiratory protection for you, there are different criteria you should consider.
Oxygenation of the work area
Of course, outdoor construction sites are well ventilated and more oxygenated compared to indoor space. In outdoor areas, harmful gases and dust can be blown away instead of lingering inside for days.
If you are working indoors, consider using alternative grinding techniques to minimise the substances released.
Knowledge of the substance
If you are working with a new substance or potentially hazardous material, you should thoroughly research the risks that come with it. Evaluate how you can minimise these risks through ventilation and protective equipment.
For example, highly irritating materials like silica should be handled carefully with protective equipment. Others, like glue and solvent vapours, should always be used with suitable respiratory protection.
Detectability of substance
Carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous gases because it is virtually undetectable. It has no smell or visual appearance, meaning it can kill you within minutes without you even detecting its presence. Indoor construction sites should always have carbon monoxide monitors for safety.
Consider the detectability of the substances you are working with and how you can notice if a harmful level is present. You may notice a smell or see it in the air – like a large cloud of dust.
Containment of the workspace
The containment of your worksite can impact how certain harmful substances are. If you are working in an enclosed work site, make sure to wear adequate respiratory protective equipment. You can choose the correct RPE by its filter classification. For example, an FFP1 filter is only 80% efficient, while a P3 filter is 99.97% efficient.
It all depends on how much protection you need against harmful particles and the risk against you.