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May 7, 2015

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3M hosts webinar on dangers of construction dust

An educational webinar conducted by diversified technology company 3M has raised awareness of the dangers associated with exposure to harmful dust in the construction and rail industries.

A survey by the IOSH Construction Group Committee, in collaboration with the Construction Dust Partnership (CDP) into awareness levels of dust hazards in the construction industry found that 42.2 per cent of respondents understood the health issues surrounding construction dust but had no idea of the significance of these risks.

More than 3,700 new occupational cancer cases each year have been attributed to workers’ exposure to harmful construction dust, such as asbestos and silica, according to statistics from the Health & Safety Executive. The 3M webinar aimed to tackle this lack of awareness.

Targeted at industry personnel, it discussed the role Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) can play as part of the ‘hierarchy of controls’ to prevent harm to worker’s health, alongside a focus on respirable crystalline silica.

In the 45 minute webinar, George Elliott, a technical service engineer from the 3M Personal Safety Division, discussed the role RPE can play alongside other control measures, such as water suppression and local exhaust ventilation. The webinar also focussed on the correct selection, use and fitting of RPE.

He said: “It is imperative for workers and managers in both the construction and rail sectors to be aware and knowledgeable of the long latency health risks from hazardous dust exposure. The findings from the CDP and IOSH report have revealed that there is some way to go in ensuring individuals are aware of the risks posed by hazardous dusts as well as the controls measures which can help to mitigate the threats”.

The CDP aims to raise awareness within the construction industry about lung diseases related to hazardous workplace dust and to promote good practice to prevent these diseases, particularly for those undertaking high risk tasks.

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