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  • Writer's pictureMark Baker

Managing Airborne Particulates: Controlling Dust with On-Tool Water Suppression

In the hustle and bustle of dusty work environments, ensuring health and safety standards is paramount. Whether it’s in construction, manufacturing, or any industry where dust is prevalent, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 has laid out guidelines to protect workers from potential hazards. Workplace lung function (spirometry) testing is a great tool to help your team's stay healthy whilst the best on the job method, highlighted by WorkSafe New Zealand in their updated guidance, involves the use of on-tool water suppression systems to control dust.



Understanding the Hazards of Dust

Dust isn't just a nuisance; it can pose serious health risks when inhaled. Particles from various materials can become airborne during cutting, grinding, drilling, or similar tasks, leading to respiratory issues and long-term health complications. Recognizing this, the Health and Safety at Work Act emphasizes the employer's responsibility to mitigate these risks and provide a safe working environment for employees.


Introducing On-Tool Water Suppression

On-tool water suppression is a proactive approach to dust control. It involves attaching a water suppression system directly to the tool being used, such as a grinder or saw. This system works by wetting the material as it is being cut or ground, thereby reducing the amount of dust generated and preventing it from becoming airborne.

Under Section 36 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, employers are required to eliminate or minimize risks to health and safety as much as reasonably practicable. This includes implementing measures such as on-tool water suppression where applicable to control dust exposure.



Benefits of On-Tool Water Suppression

  1. Health Protection: By reducing the amount of dust in the air, on-tool water suppression helps safeguard the respiratory health of workers, minimizing the risk of conditions like asthma and silicosis.

  2. Efficiency: Contrary to popular belief, using water suppression does not compromise efficiency. In fact, it can improve visibility and cutting accuracy by keeping the work area clear of dust clouds.

  3. Compliance: By adopting on-tool water suppression systems, employers demonstrate their commitment to meeting health and safety regulations, reducing the likelihood of non-compliance penalties.

Implementing On-Tool Water Suppression

To effectively implement on-tool water suppression, employers should:

  • Select Appropriate Equipment: Choose tools compatible with water suppression systems and ensure they are properly maintained.

  • Provide Training: Train workers on the correct use of on-tool water suppression systems, including maintenance procedures and safety protocols.

  • Regular Inspections: Conduct regular inspections to ensure equipment is functioning correctly and address any issues promptly.

Workplace Lung Function Testing: Safeguarding Your Team's Health

While measures like on-tool water suppression play a vital role in controlling dust exposure, it's equally important to monitor the health of workers regularly. The inhalation of dust particles can have long-term consequences on lung function, making workplace lung function testing a crucial aspect of health and safety protocols.



Workplace lung function testing by Healthbox NZ
Workplace lung function testing by Healthbox


Understanding the Risks: The Role of Workplace Lung Function Testing

Exposure to airborne dust can lead to respiratory issues such as reduced lung function, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and even lung cancer. These conditions may not manifest immediately but can develop over time with prolonged exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace.


Workplace lung function testing involves assessing the respiratory health of employees through various tests, including spirometry, which measures lung capacity and function. By regularly monitoring lung function, employers can detect early signs of respiratory impairment and take preventive measures to mitigate further damage.


In New Zealand, we are a leading provider of workplace lung function testing services. With a commitment to promoting employee health and safety, Healthbox offers comprehensive testing solutions tailored to the needs of your team and across different industries.


Benefits of Workplace Lung Function Testing

  1. Early Detection: Regular testing allows for the early detection of respiratory issues, enabling timely intervention and treatment to prevent further deterioration.

  2. Compliance: By partnering with reputable providers like Healthbox, employers ensure compliance with health and safety regulations, demonstrating their commitment to employee well-being.

  3. Employee Well-being: Prioritizing lung function testing shows employees that their health is valued, fostering a positive work culture and improving morale.

Conclusion

In the quest for workplace health and safety, controlling dust with on-tool water suppression is just one piece of the puzzle. Equally important is the proactive monitoring of employee health through workplace lung function testing. By partnering with Healthbox, your can ensure the well-being of your workforce, mitigate health risks, and create a healthier and more productive work environment for all of your teams.

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