Dust extraction: The risks of dust and how to prevent them

Author Maria Madamombe Calendar 25 May 2023
Dust Kills Blog Header

Dust Extraction: The Risks of Dust and How to Prevent Them


Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) have commenced their ‘Dusk Kills’ campaign to educate workers on the control measures required to prevent exposure to dust. In addition to this, they’ll be conducting nationwide construction site inspections throughout May, June and July 2023. Starting on Monday, 15 May 2023, the inspections, part of a respiratory health intervention initiative, will specifically focus on dust control, checking employers and workers know the risks, plan their work, and are using the right controls.

Over 12,000 workers die every year from work-related lung disease. Because of this, in recent years dust extraction and suppression have become important issues on site. Understanding the risks involved and how to avoid exposure to dangerous dust particles are crucial to keeping everyone safe.

What dust types are there?


There are three different types of dust you might encounter on a construction site.

  • Silica dust – from working on materials like concrete, mortar and sandstone
  • Wood dust – from working on softwood, hardwood and wood-based products like MDF and plywood
  • Lower toxicity dusts – from working on materials like plasterboard, limestone, marble and dolomite


What are the different dust classes?


There are three different classes of dust. Each one requires a specific requirement to be safely removed from the workplace but, more importantly, from our lungs. These three classes are categorised as the following:

  • Low Risk (L-Class)
    This type of dust presents a moderate risk to any operator and is commonly associated with materials such as Corian and softwoods. The exposure limit for L-Class dust is >1mg/㎥ which requires a dust extractor that captures 99% of the dust with a grain size under two microns.
  • Medium Risk (M-Class)
    M Class is the minimal legal requirement, set by the HSE, and most sites will use this classification of dust extractors. Medium risk dust is associated with a wider range of materials including wood dust, dust from repair compounds, filler and clear coats, cement, concrete and tile cement dust. This type of dust presents a medium risk to any operator as the exposure limit for M-Class is > 0.1mg/㎥ and requires a dust extractor that catches 99.9% of the dust with a grain size under two microns.
  • High Risk (H-Class)
    H Class dust extractors include all the features you find with M Class units, but with greater suction and filtration figures. High risk dust includes any dust containing carcinogenic or pathogenic particles, as well as any mould spores, asbestos, mineral fibres, bitumen, and artificial mineral fibres such as glass wool. This type of dust presents a high risk to any operator as the exposure limit for H-Class dust is >0.1mg/㎥ and requires a dust extractor that catches 99.995% of the dust with a grain size under one micron.


What are the dangers of dust?


It’s important to understand the dangers of breathing in these dusts. Dust can do a lot of damage but the main dust-related diseases that tend to affect construction workers are:

  • Lung cancer
  • Silicosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma

One of the main things to be aware of is that it only takes a small amount of daily exposure to cause significant health risks. Many everyday, common construction tasks can create a lot of dust and the effects of inhaling it might not be apparent for some time.

How do I reduce dust on site?


The best way to reduce dust and the amount workers are exposed to are:

  • Reduce or stop the dust – for example by making sure you’re using the right size of materials so to reduce the cutting required, or by using less powerful tools
  • Control the dust – using wet cutters or tools with dust extraction or suppression functions
  • Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

It’s important to note that wearing RPE alone is usually not enough. You should try to reduce or control the dust as well as providing workers with adequate RPE.

Here at The Hireman many of our tools come with integrated dust reduction or removal features, while others can be hired with dust attachments. You can see which of our cutters and grinders have dust extraction options available right here. You can also flick through our catalogue where any tool with dust extraction features is highlighted with a dust icon.

To coincide with the Go Home Healthy campaign, we’re going to be going into more detail about some of our most popular tools with dust extraction features as well as the RPE we can provide, like masks and respirators. We’ll also look at how we’ve improved our own dust prevention practices. Look out for more in the weeks ahead!


Popular tools with dust extraction features


Air Cube Cleaner, H-Class, 1000 m3/h, 110V


Circulates air through a highly efficient multi-storage H-class filter system and separates dust down to 0.3 microns such as quartz dust found in concrete, brick, grout and mortar. Removing the hazardous airborne dust and particles that are harmful to our health.

Hire yours now


Hilti VC 40M-X (16A), M-Class Dust Extraction Unit, 110V


Our M-Class Filtered extraction unit, with an automatic self-cleaning filter and a design suitable for attachment to a wide range of construction equipment.

Hire yours now


Bridge/Slab Saw, 1000mm, 110V


Accurately cut large materials with our rail-tilting overhead bridge saw. With a Max cutting length of 1000mm and width of 110mm. Suitable for natural stone, concrete slabs, ceramic tiles and masonry block.

Hire yours now


If you're interested in setting up an account, all you need to do is pop an email over to [email protected] and we'll do the rest!

Protect workers from vibration hazards and risks

Author Maria Madamombe Calendar 16 March 2022
hand arm vibration time limits

When using or operating tools and machinery, exposure to vibration can cause permanent damage.

This blog covers the occupational risks of vibration for employers whose business involves using hand-guided powered equipment, powered machines that process handheld materials and frequent use of handheld power tools. In addition, workers and self-employed persons that use vibrating equipment should also be aware of the risks.

What are the risks of tool vibration? 

Regular and frequent exposure to vibration can lead to permanent health effects. Ill health is most likely to occur when contact with a vibrating tool or work process is a regular part of a person’s job.

The risks of vibration include damage to joints, muscles, circulation and sensory nerves, and this could lead to pain, absence from work or disability.

The common health conditions caused by ‘over’ vibration are laid out below:

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

HAVS can be caused by handheld powered equipment, hand-guided machinery and hand-fed machines. Hand-arm vibration can cause vibration white finger, permanent and painful numbness, tingling sensations in the hands and arms, painful joints and muscle weakening. There is also evidence that it may cause carpel tunnel syndrome.

hand-arm vibration syndrome

Vibration White Finger (VWF)

Vibration white finger is a long-term condition linked to HAVS that causes numbness or tingling in the fingers. These adverse effects are often accompanied by whitening (or blanching) of the fingertips. VWF (and other symptoms of HAVS) can be prevented, but there is currently no cure.

Vibration white finger can develop in one or both hands as a result of using power tools and machinery. VWF tends to affect people in occupations such as:

  • Construction
  • Mining
  • Forestry
  • Automobile assembly and repair
  • Metalworking trades
  • Quarry drilling
  • Stone carving

Whole-Body Vibration (WBV)

WBV is caused by sitting, standing or lying on a vibrating surface. Mobile machine drivers, including certain tractors, forklift trucks and quarrying or earth-moving machinery, may be exposed to WBV. 

Vibration transmitted through the feet can also be a problem for employees that stand on stationary plant platforms.

WBV can lead to headaches, motion sickness, chronic back pain, stomach problems and sleep/visual disturbances.

Is there any specific legislation concerned with vibration hazards?

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 is the primary regulation concerned with occupational exposure to vibration. 

If employers comply with the vibration regulations and follow guidance, it may be possible to introduce measures and limit exposure to prevent hand-arm and whole-body vibration.

View the full document here.


hand-arm vibration tool chart

How can you control the risks of tool vibrations?

To prevent injuries associated with vibration, you’ll need to identify and assess the who, what and where of every activity taking place on site. For example, what equipment are employees using? What are the exposures from the task they are doing? Where is the work taking place? Is the worker comfortable and unrestricted?

After assessing these influences, you’ll need to put sufficient control measures into place. Protective equipment and shock-absorbing workwear can help substantially, but limiting exposure and implementing good work practices are likely to have a long-term positive effect.

Calculating vibration levels can help employers and workers assess safe exposure in line with regulations. Levels of vibration are known as Exposure Action Values (EAVs) and Exposure Limit Values (ELVs). Employers must prevent further daily exposure when these values are reached/exceeded.

For hand-arm vibration (HAVS), the daily ELV is 5 m/s2 A(8), and the daily EAV is 2.5 m/s2 A(8).

For whole-body vibration (WBV), the daily ELV is 1.15 m/s2 A(8), and the daily EAV is 0.5 m/s2 A(8).

The Hireman has created a Hand-Arm Vibration Calculator to make visualising safe tool/equipment use accessible and easy to understand. All workers/employers have to do is input (up to 6) products/tools, and the calculator will display the daily exposure m/s² A(8) and exposure points.

hand arm vibration calculator

Don’t take risks when it comes to overexposure

From electric power washers to needle guns, power tools and machinery are essential for day-to-day tasks on construction sites everywhere. However, there is no excuse for complacency when it comes to worker safety and proactively assessing safe usage levels to prevent life-changing injuries. 

Use our hand-arm vibration calculator for clear guidance on ELV and EAV levels.

Check out our full range of power tools and machinery available for hire. 

For our full range of power tools and machinery available for hire, check out our expansive product range

If you're interested in setting up an account, all you need to do is pop an email over to [email protected] and we'll do the rest!

The Hireman health & safety training courses

Author Maria Madamombe Calendar 19 January 2022

Industry-essential health and safety courses from our depots in and around London

The Hireman is PASMA accredited training provider with training facilities in hire depots based in and around London. We can offer a range of industry essential health & safety courses as well as being able to tailor courses to suit your needs. All our dates are flexible, so please get in touch and we can aim to fit around your requirements.

To book your place on the course, please email us at [email protected].

You can download more information below

If you're interested in setting up an account, all you need to do is pop an email over to [email protected] and we'll do the rest!

Dust extraction features: Using hoods and water to suppress dust

Author Maria Madamombe Calendar 16 October 2018
husqvarna air cube cleaner

Dust Extraction Features: Using Hoods and Water to Suppress Dust

With the Go Home Healthy campaign in full swing, we thought we’d look at some of our most popular tools that come with dust extraction features. Our angle grinders in particular offer a variety of different extraction options, from in-built suppression to external dust extraction units. We’re going to take a quick look at a few different types of dust suppression and pick out our most popular tools for each.

Dust Extraction Hoods with Extraction Units

A great way to reduce and contain dust is to use an extraction hood. The hood usually then connects to an external dust extraction unit or vacuum.

Our Hilti 230mm grinder is extremely popular and is available with a dust extraction hood. When connected to an extraction unit these drastically cut down on airborne particles and make the operation virtually dustless. This method hits dust at source and prevents it from getting out into the workplace rather than just suppressing it. It’s a great way of keeping workers safe.

We also have other dust extraction units available, including an air cube cleaner for filtering out harmful particles throughout an entire work area, or a dust extractor which comes with powerful H-class filtering system and can be attached to a range of different tools.

air cube cleaner dust extractor
Wet Dust Suppression

Another way to suppress dust is by using water during cutting. Spraying water helps prevent the dust becoming airborne in the first place and allows fewer harmful particles into the atmosphere. This, in turn, means fewer particles breathed in by workers operating in that area.

Our  Husqvarna disc cutter has both wet and dry cutting ability, with either a dust extraction attachment available or a water connection which can be attached to a supply unit and used to suppress dust. The Husqvarna cutter is great for cutting into concrete, stone and asphalt. The cut-off saw staple on our fleet is the Stihl cut-off saw, which comes with an integrated water connection. The Stihl saw also cuts into metal, tiles or bricks as well as concrete, stone and asphalt.

cut-off saw

Every tool in our range that has dust extraction features available will be flagged with a dust symbol online and in the catalogue. You can also filter products by dust features on the website. You can find all our dust and fume extractors here.

If you're interested in setting up an account, all you need to do is pop an email over to [email protected] and we'll do the rest!

PASMA training at The Hireman

Author Maria Madamombe Calendar 17 July 2018
pasma training, working at height training, the hireman training

The Hireman offers PASMA training courses to help you work safely at height. It is a legal requirement that anyone working at height is competent to do so and our one-day, PASMA Towers for Users course will allow you to safely inspect, assemble, dismantle or adjust mobile access towers.

If you’re coming up to the expiration date on your existing certificate or a new customer looking to get your workforce trained, we can get you booked on a course straight away.

We have courses available on the dates below, or we can arrange a bespoke course for you on a date of your choosing.

Monday August 6th

Friday September 21st

Friday October 19th

Thursday November 15th

Friday January 25th

Friday February 22nd

Our PASMA approved training centre is based at our central London depot just off Old Kent Road SE1. However, we can also provide training at our Croydon CR0 depot as well as providing training on-site, in and around the London area. All you need to do is contact us and we’ll be able to help.

You can reserve a place on any of the above courses by going to our online booking calendar. You can also book by emailing [email protected] with details of how many places you need and the date of your choosing. You can call our training department on 0207 064 8968.

PASMA Towers for Users

The PASMA Towers for Users course lasts one day and is split into two parts; the morning is spent on theory and finishes with a multiple choice test, while the afternoon is spent learning to safely assemble a tower and includes a practical assessment.

The key aims of the course are:

  • To teach you how to build a tower in the correct way
  • To use this knowledge to minimise falls from height

You can find out more about the course here, or visit the HSE website for more about the law surrounding working at height.

If you're interested in setting up an account, all you need to do is pop an email over to [email protected] and we'll do the rest!

Health and safety training from The Hireman

Author c0recr3ative Calendar 20 April 2017
health and safety training with The Hireman

Here at The Hireman we provide a wide range of health and safety training courses, either from our training facility as part of our central London depot, or out on site. You can book a training course today either by calling us or booking online at thehireman.co.uk/training.

The benefits of training with The Hireman are:

  • We’re committed to achieving successful training outcomes for you and your staff
  • First class training delivered by experienced industry specialists
  • You’ll learn in a state-of-the-art training facility in central London
  • Our training centre accommodates up to 12 delegates
  • We will work with you to create bespoke courses/toolbox talks
  • You’ll receive PASMA accreditation from our Towers for Users course
  • We are happy to deliver courses at your premises

Our certified PASMA training centre allows you to learn theory in the classroom then apply that new knowledge to building a tower. Even the weather won’t disrupt your course, we can provide a covered area for practical work just in case.

health and safety training with The Hireman
Practical work with The Hireman training

Booking Online

The Hireman’s training website has had a makeover. We’re proud of it, and you can take a look at thehireman.co.uk/training.

We’ve designed the website to make it much more convenient to use on mobiles and tablets, so you can book a training course wherever you are.

The other main addition to the site is the ability to pay for your courses online as you book them. Don’t worry, you can still book courses and pay later as you’ve always done, but now you can choose to pay with your credit card online or use your account number to pay on account as well.

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed and our training blog too as we’ll be releasing some features and videos to help you get the best out of the website over the coming weeks and months.

If you're interested in setting up an account, all you need to do is pop an email over to [email protected] and we'll do the rest!