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Has Sweeping Up Been Banned?

Sweeping up after dampening down

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Dry sweeping has been condemned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Research has shown that the contents of dust being swept up can be the most harmful dust on site. It is often made up of a number of different toxic dusts from timber, MDF, insulation, plasterboard & silica based products such as concrete, cement & masonary.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (CoSHH) require that:

  • Harmful dust particles are prevented from becoming airborne in the first place by designing, manufacturing & ordering items to be the correct size
  • That where dusts are created they are controlled at source using on tool extraction or suppression
  • That once these two have been enacted, workers are issued with Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) that is suitable for the task and they have been face fit tested for
Respirators must be worn sign

Guidance for limiting the amount of dust created at work

Regardless of the process, employers should be attempting to limit the amount of dust that enters the air in the first place. Designing items to limit the number of cuts required and ordering materials the correct size all helps to reduce the amount of cutting required.

The use of off-site cutting facilities can be useful on large projects; the cutting of breeze blocks at specialised facilities etc.

Dust collection cowl on a drill
H and M Class labels on a vacuum

How to sweep up safely?

  • Dampen down material that needs to swept first; soapy water is best
  • Limit the number of people present who could be affected
  • Try to enhance ventilation by opening windows etc
    Wear a mask with an Assigned Protection Factor of at least 20 that the wearer has been face fit tested for
  • Gently sweep dampened material into several small piles
  • Dispose of the piles by further dampening and gently shovelling into waste containers
    Budget to invest in equipment to limit the need for sweeping up in the future

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