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Minimize dust to protect construction crews and equipment

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Dirt and dust minimization is always a priority on any construction worksite where heavy equipment operates. However, come summer, when the weather can often be dryer and precipitation harder to come by, it becomes an even higher priority.

Without proper mitigation and control strategies, dirt and dust can become out of control – and can cause issues for construction crew members’ health and the health of the diesel engine-operated equipment they utilize.

Plus, air quality and air emissions are often a legal requirement. This means watching dust and dirt control becomes even more important for any construction operation.

This blog will cover how site managers can minimize and control dirt and dust buildup

How dirt and dust can harm construction crews

For those who work in construction, dust is a serious concern. Without proper management, dust can pose a risk to a person’s health if they are exposed to too much dust.

Why is this the case? Because when dust is inhaled, the particles can become attached to lungs. Even too much skin exposure to dust can create complications.

How serious any of these complications are depends on the source and type of dust or dirt that a worker may be exposed to. Dust that contains carcinogens and silica will cause the most issues, which again can range all the way from minor skin irritation to serious cases of lung cancer.

According to Jet Black Safety, there are three primary construction dust types.

1. Silica dust

Silica comes from materials such as rocks, concrete, bricks, mortar and sandstone. Its microscopic particles can scratch and become embedded in lungs, which causes serious respiratory issues that sometimes can be fatal.

2. Wood dust

With wood dust, which can come from the use and work with softwood, hardwood and other products, the concern is a carcinogen that, in some cases, can lead to asthma and cancer over time.

3. Low toxicity dust

Low toxicity dust may have a misleading name. The name applies to dust from materials that don’t have any or don’t have much silica. Still, low toxicity dust exposure can be harmful to your health. Materials that produce low toxicity dust include gypsum, marble and limestone.

What health problems do these dust types cause?

For construction crew members, these three types of dust can cause many different health problems. This can include lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and, of course, asthma.

It’s important that construction sites manage dust to prevent these adverse health effects for their crew members.

How dirt and dust can affect heavy equipment and diesel engines

People aren’t the only ones at risk from overexposure to dust and dirt on construction sites. While a person’s health is much more critical to maintain, heavy equipment and the diesel engines that power them can also be negatively affected by too much dust intake and exposure.

As far as heavy construction equipment is concerned, silica poses the most significant risk. That’s because too much silica being taken into the engine can quickly cause breakdowns and equipment failures.

Silica becomes introduced to an engine when a dirty air filter is not doing its job properly. Once the silica works its way past the filter, it can mix with oil and become an abrasive, lapping compound that can gum up moving parts and interfere with proper air intake.

A clean air filter should protect equipment from dust damage

If an air filter is clean and working properly, it should capture silica before it becomes a problem. That’s because most heavy equipment air filters that protect the diesel engines in our trucks, tractors and other equipment are fitted with a two-stage filter system.

There are two elements with this type of system, an inner element and an outer element. The primary barrier of the outer element catches most of the dust and dirt particles while air is taken into the engine. The inner element exists mostly as a temporary failsafe should the outer element become damaged or too dirty to work as it needs to.

The outer element can be cleaned with the right equipment to extend its life and improve the performance and efficiency of diesel engines as they operate on the construction site.

Dust mitigation strategies for worksites

As you can see, it’s critical that your operation keeps dirt and dust buildup to a minimum.

There are several ways to accomplish this. According to ISHN, these strategies include:

  • Providing employees with personal protective equipment, such as respirators, dust masks and safety goggles.
  • Restricting and controlling access to the construction site. This can include methods such as having only certain places where vehicles and equipment can enter a site, requiring vehicles be parked in a paved area and not performing certain tasks during periods when wind gusts are high.
  • Applying water or chemical suppressors to the worksite area to keep dust down.
  • Implementing barriers, such as hay bales, crate walls or snow fences, that can limit wind air flow that could otherwise work up dirt and dust into the air.

What cleaning air filters does for heavy equipment

While those methods listed above can help both construction crew members and the equipment they operate avoid the adverse effects of too much dust and dirt exposure, there is one more step that we highly recommend for keeping diesel engines clear of dust and operating at the high level you expect.

Clean your heavy equipment air filters.

By cleaning the air filters that protect your fleet’s diesel engines, you will notice several key benefits:

  • Reduced fuel consumption
  • Lowered engine maintenance and repair bills
  • Increased engine performance
  • Longer engine life

What’s more, our Filter Blaster can be used anywhere. It’s portable and easy to manage at any site or shop. All you have to do is find what size of parts you need and you will be off and cleaning in no time.

Not sure about cleaning air filters? You may have been advised not to and instead replace. That’s because those who told you this likely don’t know about what makes Filter Blaster different from other cleaning tools and products.

We’re confident that you will see a boost in engine performance – and won’t damage your filter – when you use our products.

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