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Silica Dust & Industrial Vacuums: what you need to know.
9 October, 2020 by
Silica Dust & Industrial Vacuums: what you need to know.
Capital Equipment Hire Pty Ltd

Silica & Other Hazardous Dusts: Finding the right vacuum solutions.

Silica dust (crystalline silica) is now a known hazardous dust in the construction industry found in concrete, brick, tiles, sandstone, quartz, manufactured stone or non-manufactured benchtops. Silica dust can be a health threat when inhaled, similarly to asbestos except diseases (such as acute silicosis) can develop within weeks rather than years of exposure depending on the extremity.

One way SafeWork NSW recommends preventing exposure to hazardous dust like silica is to utilise dust-collecting equipment such as industrial vacuum cleaners with an M or H Class filter. Based on this recommendation, questions are being asked what is the right filter class to opt for when investing in industrial dust vacuums, and what is the main difference between the filter classes in the market.

Silica Dust
What is itHow can it be generatedHow it can effect you
Natural occurring mineral present in granite, shale, natural sandstone, concrete & stones. 
Dry stone cutting methods, earth moving, angle grinding, stone processing, paving and drywall finishing. 
Respiratory illnesses including lung cancer, inflammation, scarring of the lungs and silicosis.

To read more about silica dust, where it is found, the health implications and how it can be generated, visit the Total Tools website or SafeWork Australia Site .

Hazardous Dust and Cleaning Equipment: Industrial Vacuums

Cleaning equipment manufacturers including Nilfisk Australia have spent considerable time developing Industrial Vacuum Systems (IVS) that enable the safe collection and disposal of hazardous dust, including silica. The industrial vacuums’ filter class has varying levels of capacity to collect the fine fibres of different hazardous/non-hazardous dust types. For more information about hazardous dusts check this Nilfisk brochure here.

L Class - Moderate Risk Dusts

Dust bags are not required for L Class.

M Class - Medium Risk Dusts

Must use a dust bag for waste collection.

H Class - High Risk Dusts

Must use a dust bag for waste collection, sometimes with a specific bag type like a Safe Bag.

Certified M Class (MC) or Certified H Class (HC) for Silica?

SafeWork NSW (responsible for establishing laws and regulations regarding work safety in NSW) has to this day recommended the use of either certified M or H class vacuums to manage silica dust. This means it is up to the company’s discretion and responsibility to research and select the most appropriate filter solution to protect, collect and dispose of this hazardous dust. These regulations and recommendations are enforced on a state level, meaning every state has different standards in how to manage hazardous dust like silica. 

For best practice in the industry, purchasing a certified HC vacuum is recommended for optimal safety and adherence to NSW standards.

There are a number of factors required to own a certified HC vacuum, below are some points to consider when determining between the two vacuum classes and equipment available to manage hazardous dusts in the workplace.

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