Protecting construction workers lung health

Professor David Fishwick, HSE’s Chief Medical Advisor introduces a set of short videos that highlight the risks of exposure to construction dust and outline control measures to prevent exposure.

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Dust poses several threats to human health, which why the UK’s Health and Safety Executive requires that places of work adhere to strict regulations to minimise its effects, or face the legal consequences. Let’s take a look at the four major ways dust can harm.

1. Breathing Dust In

Depending on the size of the dust particles, they can cause damage to the nose, mouth, throat, windpipe or lungs.

These effects can sometimes take years to appear and include inflammation, asthma, and lung cancers, such as mesothelioma.

2. Swallowing Dust

Breathing in dust can sometimes mean it gets trapped in mucus lining the mouth and throat.

When this is swallowed it can irritate the gut.

If it gets into the bloodstream it can reach other organs and cause damage throughout the body.

3. Dust in the eyes

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4. Dust on the skin

Continued exposure to dust can cause skin irritation, ulcers and rashes. The skin disease dermatitis can also result from dust exposure.    

There are many processes that produce dust, including drilling, milling, grinding and sawing. The severity of the harmful effects of dust will depend on type of dust produced.

Once you have an idea of the type of dust you’re dealing with, you can select the right kind of vacuum to safely and effectively remove it.

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