Handling Silica Dust when Working Dry

Silica, also referred to as silicon dioxide, is a compound that is more than just dust. When workers are exposed to silica dust, it can lead to serious health problems. It’s often found in quartz, but it’s also a major component of sand. Workers are exposed to silica dust when they begin working with materials that contain silica. They may be cutting, grinding, sawing, or polishing.


Contractors in this field know all too well that one of their biggest problems can be the control and collecting of slurry produced when using water to cool and lubricate their cutting, grinding, and polishing tools. However, if contractors are working dry, a larger problem can occur. When working dry, airborne silica dust can escape into the environment. This exposes operators, customers, and bystanders to lung diseases like silicosis. If this happens, contractors are subject to hefty fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).


Typically, operators have tended to use the simple approach of working dry and using a dry vac to handle the dust. However, it tends to never work very well, and workers are usually working under a cloud of dust. So, what is the best option for working dry and protecting you, your workers, and the environment from harmful silica dust? The best method is to use water to both eliminate airborne dust and to cool and lubricate your cutting tools.


The slurry that comes as a by-product of this process should then be sent through an effective dewatering machine, such as the Mud Hen. Not only is the Mud Hen portable and narrow enough to steer through the average size doorway, the Mud Hen is powered by compressed air and will remove the solids for easy disposal. It will also provide cleaned water for recycle.

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