Dust PDFWorksafe have just released a document providing guidance on managing construction dust.

The information is presented below - or you can download the PDF. 

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This article appears in our August 2017 Issue of Building Business

Get Dust Compliant

PCBU’s need to address construction site dust issues in order to be Health & Safety compliant.

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the modern construction site a slow but effective killer lurks, construction site dust. A risk that presents itself whenever building materials are cut, sanded, machined, or cleaned. The respiratory risk to workers working directly on the task and others in the vicinity means that controlling construction site dust is an important and potentially lifesaving responsibility for PCBUs.

Silica, for example, is a mineral found in concrete and fibre cement building products (among others), and is a significant contributor to lung disease in New Zealand. Long-term exposure to silica dust from construction sites can be attributed to a large number of deaths in New Zealand every year.
Using power tools when working with these materials creates large volumes of dust. It is this fundamental process where WorkSafe New Zealand is encouraging industry to focus on becoming ‘best practice’ compliant.

New WorkSafe guidelines

The issue of construction site dust and the associated health risk to workers has been talked about for some time now. Existing published guidelines were no longer adequate to address the modern dust levels and complexities present on many New Zealand construction sites.

WorkSafe has now prepared and released these guidelines, and your ITM store or sales rep can help you understand what changes might be required on your sites.

Becoming dust compliant

Nilfisk’s industrial dust extractors are the solution for any on-site portable dust extraction issue. Nilfisk has overhauled its range of on-site dust extractors, with additional features, increased durability, and full compliance with the new WorkSafe guidelines.

The new guidelines, titled ‘Controlling Construction Dust with On-Tool Extraction’ provides very clear areas that need to be addressed by PCBUs in construction environments where dust is created by tools (drilling, grinding, cutting, sanding etc.). The guide also introduces terminology that many tradespeople won't be familiar with. The full WorkSafe guidelines can be downloaded here.

Power tools that provide Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)

What the industry would commonly think of as a ‘dust port’, this can be a standard feature of the tool, an optional accessory, or an aftermarket adaptor – a properly designed way of channelling the dust produced by each tool. ITM carries a full range of power tools that are either designed with built-in LEV solutions, or are compatible with optional LEV adaptors.

Connect the system together

International best practice already dictates that tools that produce the dust, and the dust extractors that collect the dust can be professionally and efficiently interconnected with proper hoses and fittings, even when the brands of tool/extractor differ. These new guidelines encourage this best practice to become more prevalent on New Zealand construction sites.

Compliant dust extractors

When working with a known hazardous dust, tradespeople need to select a certified vacuum cleaner that has been tested and approved at the design/manufacturing stage to perform to a certain certified level. Entry-level vacuums, where the actual level of dust collection, filtration, and leakage cannot be verified, are therefore discouraged.

The required level depends on the hazardous nature of the dust being created, which will begin to be identified by building materials manufacturers.

The international identification system:

• Low (L)
• Medium (M)
• Hazardous/High (H)

Hazard ID

Training and maintenance

Correct maintenance and operator training form important aspects of the PCBU’s responsibility to eliminate or reduce the level of construction site dust.

Nilfisk provides unparalleled performance and on-site durability, while providing full compliance with the new Health and Safety Guidelines. Your ITM store can provide additional support in the form of customised vacuum hose and power tool integration. A range of dust filtration and disposal methods are available to ensure safe, clean handling of construction site dust from the moment the dust is created, through to its final disposal.

Fully automatic filter cleaning, electronic air flow monitoring and audible alarms allow trade users to embrace a new level of best practice when it comes to ensuring cleaner air quality and improved safety for workers.

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Dust Compliance Specials from Building Business August 2017

Prices exclude GST and are valid August 1st - 10th September 2017. Products may not be available in all ITM stores. Please check with your local ITM

Building Business August Dust Specials

Controlling construction dust with on-tool extraction

This guidance offers advice on choosing, using, and maintaining on-tool extraction for controlling construction dust.

Some of the most common construction jobs create high dust levels. These jobs often involve the use of power tools like cut-off saws, grinders, breakers, and sanders.

PCBUs have a duty to eliminate, or use controls to minimise, worker exposure to the hazard of and risks from construction dust. There’s also a duty for upstream PCBUs to ensure the equipment they design, manufacture, import, or supply is safe for the user.


Regularly breathing construction dust can cause diseases like lung cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD – which includes emphysema and other breathing difficulties), and silicosis.

A WorkSafe study in 2015, together with data from international studies, suggests that urgent action is required to reduce respirable dust and silica exposure in the New Zealand construction industry.1 On-tool extraction is an effective control for dust and will minimise the risks to health.


On-tool extraction is a type of local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system which is fitted directly onto the tool. The system consists of several individual parts – the tool, captor hood, extraction unit, and hoses. Each part plays a role in establishing how effective the system is and the level of control it gives. Manufacturers/suppliers provide complete systems but some parts (especially extraction units) can be used with other tool makes and models.

It is important to choose parts that are compatible, or the dust may be poorly controlled. Make sure the system is right for the particular task and the method of work. Involve workers in the selection process.


Limit the amount of dust created by choosing appropriate tools and accessories. For example, choose sanding blocks/pads or grinding discs with enough holes to allow the dust to be extracted through them.


The hood is the most important part of the LEV system. It is often manufactured as part of the power tool but can also be retro-fitted to existing equipment.

The hood captures the dust as it is produced.


Poor design or damage to the hood will significantly affect the control of dust. Check that the hood:

  • is designed for the tool and the work that you are going to do (seek guidance from the manufacturer or supplier)
  • sits as closely as possible to the work surface when in use, as dust will escape through any gaps between the two
  • is easy to use and does not interfere with the work unnecessarily.


The extraction unit is like an industrial vacuum. It is a portable unit and an important part of the LEV system.

The extraction unit removes the dust from the captor hood, filters it, and stores it for safe disposal. Selecting the correct extraction unit is key to achieving this successfully.


You can use extraction units interchangeably on some tools but the specification of the unit must be suitable for the tool and the task:

  • It is important that the extraction unit is suitable for the toxicity level and hazardous nature of the dust being extracted. Construction material manufacturers can advise whether the materials used in their products produce dust classified either L (Low), M (Medium), H (High) Class, or non-hazardous.
    • L Class – dust representing a low risk.
    • M Class – dust representing a medium risk.
    • H Class – dust representing a high risk.
  • Extraction units conforming to the above classifications provide effective and certified extraction and containment of hazardous dusts. They will feature special labelling, operators’ manuals, and where applicable, low air flow alarms and additional features for dust containment and disposal.
  • It is not appropriate to use a general commercial or domestic vacuum cleaner simply fitted with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter if extracting hazardous dusts.
  • Check that the unit creates and maintains enough air suction to cope with the amount of dust the work will create (manufacturers/suppliers can advise). It needs to remove the dust as fast as it is created.
  • Lots of fine dust can quickly clog filters. Choose units with pre-filters, built-in ‘back-flushing’ filter cleaning mechanisms, or similar devices.
  • Identify how often the unit will need emptying.
  • Check the waste capacity is right for the work.


The interconnecting hoses connect the captor hood to the extraction unit.


Check that the hose:

  • is the right construction, diameter and length for the work and the extraction unit
  • fits securely to both hood and unit.


Just providing the right equipment is not enough to control dust risks. The equipment must be operated correctly and be properly maintained. That means you should pay particular attention to each stage.



Workers must have the right information, training, instruction, or supervision before using on-tool extraction. This includes information on:

  • selecting the right on-tool system
  • pre-use checks
  • ongoing maintenance
  • how to use the system correctly
  • other controls that may be needed (eg respiratory protective equipment) and how to use them
  • common faults, how to spot them, and the action to take
  • what to do if there is a problem.



Make sure you apply the system to the work in the correct way. Focus on:

  • checking it is in good working order (not damaged) before work starts
  • having sufficient consumables on hand, including filters, filter bags, and disposal bags
  • following the agreed methods of work
  • using the equipment in the right way; follow manufacturer’s instructions
  • ensuring the captor hood is as close as possible to the work surface
  • ensuring the tubing has a good connection to both the captor hood and extraction unit; use an adaptor if needed, not tape
  • emptying the extraction unit regularlyuse the correct disposable waste bags if available
  • seal and place in the right waste container
  • do not empty these bags to recycle them if they are designed as single use
  • if the containment is re-fillable, ensure dust exposure is controlled when emptying them
  • cleaning the equipment regularly (eg wipe down daily). Do not let dust build up on working parts.



Ensure that the system works properly every time. Carry out formal maintenance checks at least once a week. You may have to do this more frequently if there is a high risk of the equipment being damaged. Concentrate on:

  • damage to parts of the system such as the hood or ducting. Repair or replace damaged parts straight away
    • maintaining the extraction unit’s flow of airfollow the manufacturer’s instructions
    • check that the airflow indicator and any built-in cleaning mechanism work properly
    • replace filters when needed
  • replacing worn cutting discs.


Equipment needs proper servicing and testing to make sure that it remains effective over a long period.

A thorough examination and test (TExT) is a detailed and systematic examination that ensures the equipment can continue to perform as intended. A competent person should carry out a TExT at least every 14 months. You might need more frequent testing if regular wear and tear could limit the effectiveness of the system more quickly.

If you own an on-tool extraction system, you will need to plan TExTs and keep a suitable record to show they’ve been done. If you are hiring equipment, check with the hire company whether it has been appropriately tested.


The general principles of the above standards also apply to cordless tools with integrated filtered extraction devices. However, these units do not fall under the L, M, or H classification system, so their suitability should be checked with the manufacturer before using to extract hazardous dusts.


© Crown copyright – contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence