Q: How do I minimize dust on the jobsite?

A: Remodeling contractors and their workers rarely think about the value of controlling dust on their projects. They do not take the topic seriously and are often unaware of the health effects associated with exposure to the many various types of dust on a job site. Here are a few suggestions on controlling dust so workers can protect themselves and their clients:

  • Education. Familiarize yourself and your employees with the seven types of dust (or particulate hazards) found on typical remodeling projects and the health effects associated with each type: household dust, fugitive dust, construction dust, mold spores, lead dust, asbestos, demolition dust. 

  • Identify the dust-related OSHA regulations. Establish tailgate training to increase workers awareness of these regulations.  For typical remodelers, it involves following these OSHA regulations:
    1926.25 – Housekeeping
    1926.57 – Ventilation
    1926.55 - Gases, Vapors, Fumes and Mists
    1926.62 – Lead
    1926.1101 - Asbestos
    Training should also be conducted on the MSDS sheets for new products or materials that workers use to better understand the particulate hazards associated with those products.

  • Training. Attend either an 8-hour Lead Safe Work Practices training course or the soon to be available 8-hour EPA Certified Renovator training course. Both provide valuable information about how to go about working in such a way as to not create dust and the steps necessary to clean up a project to remove any dust created.

  • Minimize the creation of dust. This involves the use of wet methods of working using spray bottles or garden sprayers to wet surfaces to be removed or disturbed. Another way is to use source capture devices or shrouds attached to cutting or grinding tools, which are then attached to a HEPA equipped vacuum cleaner.

  • Clean up! This should be the mantra for today's remodelers. Clean up immediately after creating dust or debris. Clean not just the work area, but the tools used and yourself if you are the person doing the work. Clean up in a way that would allow a toddler to walk into the work area.

By following these suggestions, a remodeling company and its workers will learn about the health effects of exposure to the various particulate hazards associated with remodeling and be in a better position to provide a superior remodeling experience for their clients.
-- Brindley Byrd, CGR, CAPS, is a national speaker, author and advocate who has served the construction industry for over 12-years. He established the Responsible Remodeling™ core operating system for dust-safe work practices to protect the health of workers and customers. He has guided hundreds of professional remodelers through the regulations and work practices of managing remodeling air quality. Contact Brindley at bbyrd@qx2.net or visit www.qx2.net for more information