In 2016, new Health & Safety Legislation (Heath & Safety at Work Act 2015) was put in place, and a number of new education and compliance projects have been commenced by Worksafe NZ focussing on key areas where workplace safety can be improved.
The topic of reducing Construction Site dust and therefore the associated health risk to workers has been talked about for some time now, and the existing published guidelines were outdated and were not based on global best practise.
NZ HiKOKI Power Tool Distributior, Accent Tools Ltd worked with Leading Dust Extraction Manufacturer, Nilfisk, with regards to significant product development of a new range of portable dust extractors, which included in-field prototype evaluation in New Zealand in 2016. We have engineered a substantial overhaul of our Dust Extraction capabilities, knowing that at some point Worksafe NZ would determine clearer guidelines on the topic of construction site dust.
Worksafe NZ has prepared and released guidelines, titled ‘Controlling Construction Dust with on-tool extraction’, and it provides very clear topics that need to be addressed in construction environments where dust is created by tools (drilling, grinding, cutting, sanding etc.), and also introduces terminology that most tradespeople will currently not be familiar with:
1/ Selecting/using tools that provide Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)
What we 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.
2/ Dust Extraction Unit
Tradespeople will be directed to select a certified vacuum cleaner that has been tested & 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 (in their MSDS sheets).
The International identification system of Low (L), Medium (M), or Hazardous/High (H) is used to identify both the risk presented by the dust, and the solution provided by the Dust Extractor.
3/ Interconnecting Hose systems
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 NZ construction sites.
4/ Maintenance & Training
Correct maintenance & operator training form important aspects of the PCBU’s responsibility to eliminate or reduce the level of construction site dust.
These industry changes will at some point cause a dramatic increase in demand in a similar vein to that experienced when Working at Height issues were given specific focus by Worksafe NZ. Accent Tools intends to lead the market with regards to compliance knowledge and product solutions in this rapidly developing category, as we expect market awareness of these changes to develop over time.
• Nilfisk has provided us with all the key dust extractor solutions that we believe we need moving forward, and we will support these machines with the appropriate HIKOKI accessories, consumables, and interconnecting hose systems to connect to HiKOKI Power Tool LEV’s.
• We have undertaken a review of our HiKOKI Power Tool range to ensure the tools we market where possible have integrated LEV or are compatible with LEV accessories. Primarily these are tools that cut, grind, sand, or drill.
The full Worksafe NZ guidelines can be found on the MBIE website.