Oct 03, 2022
Keep OSHA Away with Less Dusty Pavement Repair
Your crew has the potential to kick up dust on a pavement maintenance project. Look at the beginning of the process when you’re cleaning the pavement surface. That’s a vital step—you can’t skip it. Yet the broom you use could be putting ground workers at risk for lung problems. The way you protect them is by following OSHA guidelines. Read and follow Table 1 of the OSHA Standard 29 CFR § 1926.1153. And use today’s toolbox tip for some quick-n-easy ideas to help right now.
Water. Check the broom’s water spray system before you start work each day. You want to make sure the water tips are clean and clear of gunk. Look at the filters in the water tanks to make sure they’re clean with nothing blocking their mesh. Check the water reservoir to ensure its filter is clean, too. It’s what allows clean and clear water to flow nicely to the lines and nozzles. Check the water lines for wear or cracks. As simple as this will sound, look for the water cap that goes on the tank. This keeps debris from falling in and causing problems—if someone has misplaced this, order a new one ASAP.
Cool Cuts. Look at the pavement saw. When the general laborer cuts out a more delineated section to tack and patch, notice the level of dust he is directly exposed to. Whether cutting the transverse joint with an attachment on the front of a skid steer or using the more back-breaking method of a pavement saw, you’ll see dust come up while he’s working. These processes require worker protection, but you may wish to provide dust suppression as well.
Safety directors in the construction industry have learned that OSHA won’t allow one worker to stand next to the saw with a water source and consider everything A-Okay. (And, really, do you want to pay a fellow from the labor pool union wages to hold a hose all day?) For the pavement saw—and for the jackhammer—you want to affix the water source to the equipment in some manner. While most tool manufacturers offer this as an option or feature, you can assign the task to your mechanic in the shop and meet OSHA standards.
However you engineer the solution to water down the dust, be aware today of the areas where clouds pop up. Watch for points where respirable silica dust creep into your pavement maintenance routine, and then turn to Table 1 for guidance on how to protect your workers at those points.