Using a Concrete Cutter? Don't Forget About Dust

Whatever type of construction project you're working on, there's a good chance that it will involve concrete at some point. And, unless you're pumping in wet concrete and setting it to a custom shape, you'll probably need to use a concrete cutter.

Being a sharp high-powered tool, there are plenty of obvious risks that come with a concrete cutter, and any trained operator will be well aware of them. But one of the hazards of using this particular tool is not immediately obvious: dust.

As soon as you start work, you'll be only too aware of the amount of concrete dust produced, but by then it's too late to deal with some of the problems. Prepare properly for this dangerous substance beforehand and you'll be able to work much more safely.

Understand the cutter

Most cutters will have a built-in system for dealing with dust, which really helps to minimise the amount floating around in the air. Understanding the system of your particular cutter is useful so you can make sure it's working properly, and identify any problems quickly.

If you're using a wet cutter, which will be connected to a water supply hose for cooling, it will most likely use this water for dust control. Always check the water is being supplied correctly.

Alternatively, dry cutters commonly use a vacuum system to suck dust away into a collection chamber. Make sure there's room in the chamber for collection and that no obstructions are stopping the vacuum.

Protect your eyes

Keep dust away from delicate eyes by wearing a suitable pair of goggles. Goggles are a better choice than glasses for keeping the entire eye area covered and protected, but what out for fine ventilation holes that may let dust through.

Protect your airways

Crystalline silica is one of the many substances found in concrete dust, and it's extremely dangerous if breathed in. In large enough quantities, it will cause scar tissue to form inside the lungs, a condition that affects the ability to breathe and can't be cured.

Wear a respirator that covers the mouth and nose to filter out dust as you work, and remember to either clear the area of other people or make sure they're protected as well.

Think about your surroundings

Concrete dust is sharp and abrasive, which means it can damage surfaces and objects in the area. Cover anything that needs to be protected, and make sure you take into account any surfaces that have already been finished.