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Protecting tuckpointing workers from silica dust: draft recommendations for a ventilated grinder.

Heitbrink WA; Collingwood S
Silver Spring, MD: The Center to Protect Worker's Rights, 2005 Jan; :1-8
This report presents draft recommendations for using a ventilated grinder to reduce the silica dust exposures of workers who remove old mortar from masonry, a process called "tuckpointing." The dust control equipment consists of an industrial vacuum cleaner and hose affixed to a hood ("shroud") that partially encloses the grinding disc. The study of the ventilated grinders is not complete, and the authors caution that even the best equipment does not completely eliminate the silica dust hazard. But in field trials the use of the ventilated grinder greatly reduced silica dust levels during tuckpointing. Given the magnitude of the silica hazard and the urgent need to protect tuckpointing workers, the Center to Protect Workers' Rights (CPWR) and the authors have decided to share their preliminary findings rather than waiting until the final report is available. The draft recommendations come with these important qualifications: 1) some of the vacuum cleaners clog quickly and show a sudden and steep drop in their ability to capture dust; 2) proper work practices are crucial for effective dust control; 3) the equipment does not work well on uneven surfaces or on masonry with a lot of missing mortar; and 4) workers still need to wear respirators while tuckpointing with the ventilated grinders. The good news is that a respirator with an assigned protection factor of 10, such as a half-facepiece air-purifying respirator, should provide adequate protection where work conditions are similar to those at the study sites. Such respirators are less cumbersome than the respirators typically required for tuckpointing without dust control. For more information on respirators, see the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website at <a href=""target="_blank"></a>, and the CPWR Hazard Alert on Air-purifying Respirators in Construction in English at <a href=""target="_blank"></a> and en Espanol at: <a href=""target="_blank"></a>.
Construction; Construction-materials; Construction-workers; Silica-dusts; Concretes; Cements; Dust-control; Dust-control-equipment; Grinding-equipment; Respirable-dust; Respirators; Masons; Vacuum-cleaning-systems; Vacuum-equipment; Ventilation; Ventilation-equipment; Workplace-studies
The Center to Protect Workers' Rights, 8484 Georgia Avenue, Suite 1000, Silver Spring, MD 20910
7631-86-9; 14808-60-7
Publication Date
Document Type
Email Address
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Grant; Construction
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-317202; Grant-Number-T42-OH-008414; Grant-Number-T42-OH-008491
Priority Area
Source Name
Protecting Tuckpointing Workers from Silica Dust: Draft Recommendations for a Ventilated Grinder
Performing Organization
The Center to Protect Workers' Rights
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division