How to Be Safe from Dust When Drilling Concrete

Anyone working on concrete or stone knows how messy a job it is. However, the actual mess the dust from stone or concrete makes isn't the real issue on the job site. It's breathing in the dust that's of concern.
how to stay safe when drilling concrete dust

In this guide we'll cover some top tips on how to stay safe and the products you should be using while you work on concrete or stone.

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Why is Concrete Dust Dangerous

Silica is a basic compound - or mineral -  found in concrete, concrete blocks, cement or mortar. It's also found in masonry bricks, tiles and asphalt that contains rock or stone. When any of these are cut or drilled it creates a cloud of dust within which contains Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS).
bosch dust extraction
Inhaling this can - and is - very hazardous to your health, and to anyone in the environment where you're working.

According to the Health and Safety Executive:

RCS is harmful to the lungs, causing the disease silicosis in which the lungs develop small, hard nodules of scar tissue resulting in coughing and breathing difficulties. The speed of onset of silicosis depends on the exposure. Although low-level chronic exposure to RCS may take many years to produce the disease, intense daily exposure can cause severe illness much more quickly. [source]

How to Protect Yourself from Concrete and Stone Dust

As we've already said, silica dust is unavoidable when cutting or drilling into any object that contains silica. Therefore we need to look at the ways to protect ourselves and others from this dust.

It goes without saying that this guide isn't an exhaustive guide to protection against RCS. Everyone should be following the relevant guidelines on RSC control laid out by their employer, site manager and health safety bodies.

1. Use Proper PPE

When drilling or chipping concrete or stone a good quality dust mask will help protect you from the fine dust particles created. When choosing one, look for a mask that actively filters the air you're breathing, preferably through a HEPA filter.

2. Use a Dust Extractor When Possible

If the power tool you're using to work on the stone, brick or concrete comes with a dust extraction port, hook it up to an "M Class" dust extractor unit, such as the Dewalt DWV902M or the Makita 447M.

The importance of having an "M Class" vacuum or dust extractor on site with you can't be overestimated. These are rated "M" due to the type of very fine dust, such as created by stone or concrete, that it traps. This helps minimise as much as possible the release of dust into the air while you work.

But the potential downside of this tip is that not all power tools are fitted with dust extraction ports. This is especially true when using a heavy hammer drill to chisel or drill.

Protecting Yourself When Chipping or Drilling Concrete or Stone with a Drill

3. Attach a Dust Extraction Kit to Your Drill

Two power tool manufacturers in particular are taking the need to minimise the production of harmful RSC while you work very seriously.

We've seen Bosch and Makita launch dust extraction kits that are designed to fit onto your drill to remove the dust as its being created. Both claim that their kits present you with a virtually dust-free environment while you drill or chisel.

Makita DX02 Dust Extraction Unit

Makita for a while has had DX02 Dust Extraction Unit available for use on its BHR243 3 mode rotary hammer drill. The effectiveness of this filter can be seen in this video we made for Toolstop TV (click here).

The DX02 benefits from a HEPA filter which is regarded as the ultimate filtration system for collecting the tiniest of harmful dust particles, efficient to around 99.75%.

This is a great solution for anyone using the cordless Makita BHR243 and its an accessory we'd love to see the other manufacturers developing for use on their hammers, especially as it slots directly onto the hammer drill and allows you to reduce the release of harmful dust when you simply can't be hooked up to a dust extractor.
Bosch GSB19-2REA 900W Impact Drill with Dust Extraction
Bosch has a similar product on the market, supplied with its corded GSB19-2REA 900W Impact Drill, which you can learn more about here.

We asked Bosch to demonstrate how well this filter system works, you can see this demo on Toolstop TV by clicking here.

And another great product for handling dust is the Bosch GDE162 adaptor which is designed for use on all drilling tools, core cutters in particular.
Bosch GDE162 Professional Dust Extraction Adaptor
It even allows for adequate dust extraction during wet drilling, and it doesn't add any weight to your already hefty drill.

We've got more on this type of solution below.

4. Attach a Dust Extractor to your Dust Extraction Kit

Lately both Bosch and Makita have launched products that combine the power of an "M Class" dust extractor/vacuum with the ability to attach a filter system directly to your power tool. This creates the perfect solution to minimising the dust released into the air when drilling or chipping stone, brick or masonry.

Both products are designed to slot onto your hammer drill, catching the harmful silica dust as its being created, then drawing it down into the "M Class" filtered vacuum cleaner/dust extraction unit.
Bosch GDEMAX Professional Dust Extraction Adaptor for Chiseling

The Bosch GDEMAX Professional Dust Extraction Adaptor is specifically designed to eliminate the production of dust during chiselling application. The very nature of chiselling, whereby the surface is bashed and hammer, creates lots of dust, but Bosch claims the GDEMAX will provide you with a "virtually dust-free" environment. It fits all current models of SDS Max hammers from Bosch and it compatible with bits up to 600mm.

We asked Eric from Bosch to show us how it works, watch his demo here on Toolstop TV.

When connected to one of Bosch's "M Class" vacuums, the dust extraction process starts as soon as the hammer drill is activated. And you can see how effective it is in our video above; there's virtually no fine dust particles escaping as Eric chiselled into the concrete block.

Makita has a similar product available now called the 195866-2 Dust Extractor Attachment Set which is designed for their range of SDS max hammers. Again the principle applies that it fits onto your power tool, capturing the dust at the very point that its being generated, then extracting the dust down into the "M Class" vacuum cleaner.

Makita 195866-2 Dust Extractor Attachment Set For Hammers

The outlet hose can be strapped onto your hammer drill via the supplied velcro strap and it all fits securely in place due to the integrated side grip.

Makita demo'd it for us, which you can see here on Toolstop TV, which also includes clear instructions on how to fit it.

Thankfully our favourite power tool manufacturers are taking the risks of RCS seriously. It's great to see more and more kits coming onto the market to deal with dust as its being generated.

We want to hear how you're dealing with the risk of silica dust in the workplace, tell us in the comments below.

And be sure to share this article with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google+


Matt Hubert on Sat, 31 Oct 2015 05:45:58 +0000 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

I was not knowing that concrete drilling dust is so harmful to our health. But your article described great points on how to protect yourself from concrete dust and drilling dust. Thanks for the detailed article.

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