What Could Dust Extraction Cost You?

Dust extraction on a jobsite must be handled carefully, or the mistake could mean steep OSHA penalties.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) takes airborne and surface-borne dust very seriously because of its severe risks to job site workers and public safety. Every year, more than 2 million construction workers are exposed to materials that contain silica, including concrete and stone.

Prolonged exposure to silica dust – or even short-term exposure in some cases – can cause a condition called silicosis, which compromises respiration. In affected people, scars form deep within the lungs, limiting the breath and increasing the risk of lung infections like tuberculosis. There is no cure for silicosis.

In 2016, OSHA updated the Crystalline Silica Rule, establishing tougher standards for respirable crystalline silica, including an enforcement schedule that’s in effect for construction sites, industrial settings, maritime operations and contractors. The standards are much stricter than those set by OSHA’s original silica rule in the 1970’s.

Is your work site in full compliance with the new rule? Here’s why it should be. 

How to Manage Dust Extraction the Right Way

To handle crystalline silica dust properly, follow all OSHA standards for respirators, exposure limits, engineering controls and other measures that directly affect worker health and safety. Monitor exposure levels and stay within the boundaries of exposure limits: 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air at an 8-hour, time-weighted average.

Use a high-quality HEPA vacuum to filter the air and remove airborne particles created by grinding, drilling, mixing, cutting, blasting and other worksite activities. Plan for both wet and dry activities and ensure all workers are fully trained on precautionary procedures in case an emergency arises.

Pullman Ermator, maker of single-phase HEPA dust extractors, recently conducted a cost analysis on what bags, filters and labor could cost you for dust extraction over a year. The first is your initial cost, where your choices include 150 CFM and smaller plastic dust vacuums that are HEPA-ready or HEPA-included.

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*click here for the full PDF guide (courtesy of Pullman Ermator Inc.)

Your annual filter costs depend on the type of vacuum you are using. Single-motor dust vacuums with self-pulsing or shaking filter systems need to be replaced periodically. While a HEPA-ready vacuum needs a filter change every two months, HEPA-included dust extractors run for 18 months without a filter change. Figuring in the price for each type of filter bag, plus the annual labor cost of changing two bags per day during a six-day work week for 50 weeks a year, the HEPA-included models come out on top – even though the filter bag price is higher. In the long run, you could end up paying $3,000 more for a plastic dust vacuum. Purchasing any S-line dust extractor may have a higher initial cost, but you still can save thousands of dollars year after year.

Failure to Comply Penalties Go Beyond Basic Cost

OSHA’s enforcement penalties for the Crystalline Silica Rule come with expensive fines. The lowest level serious violation previously cost the violator $7,000 in fines. In the updated standards, the same level violation costs $12,471 per incident and is likely to trigger a deeper investigation by OSHA and other governmental authorities.

After the first incident, it’s the company’s responsibility to manage abatement procedures and prove to OSHA that abatement has taken place. Otherwise, you’ll face a failure-to-abate fine of $12,471 per day beyond the abatement deadline from OSHA.

The biggest penalty comes from either waiting too long to address issues or allowing them to take place repeatedly, which OSHA considers a willful violation. This comes with a staggering $124,709 fine, which can be doubled, tripled or more if you have numerous serious violations across your enterprise.

Putting Worker Safety At Risk

The cost of non-compliance goes much deeper than dollars. Failure to manage crystalline silica dust can destroy the health of your workers. Part of OSHA compliance is providing medical exams at least every three years to workers who wear respirators for more than 30 days at a time. These standards are set for a reason – to prevent workers’ health and lives from being permanently affected by worksite hazards.

Non-compliance can also ruin your company’s reputation in the industry. When competitors, partners and the public get wind of unethical practices, word spreads like wildfire and it can permanently tarnish a company’s image. Just one violation could severely limit the number of jobs your company is awarded in the future.

To keep your worksite risk at an absolute minimum, contact your Runyon sales rep to examine the site and put protective measures in place. It’s a proactive step towards staying well within OSHA boundaries and making sure dust doesn’t cost you money and lives.

Runyon Surface Prep Rental & Supply is a full-service sales and rental facility uniquely dedicated to the concrete polishing industry. Our uniqueness comes from providing our customers with a diverse equipment, product and supply portfolio. We offer training and support, such as technique workshops on prep, polishing or removal, and maintain a well-stocked inventory of consumables ready for your projects at a moment’s notice. Rather than perform contract work ourselves, we consult on job sites when necessary. With the backing of our vendors, Runyon Surface Prep offers support at any level, to assist in helping you get things done. We can deliver or ship wherever you need, or you can pick up from our facility.

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Pullman Ermator Professional Vacuum Line: Best in the Business

If you are in the market for vacuums, extractors, pre-separators or HEPA air scrubbers, Pullman Ermator manufactures a full line of professional grade equipment that is ideal for any jobsite or work environment.

Cutting Edge Technology

With more than 40 years of experience in the dust extraction and air cleaning industries, Ermator engineers are leading the way in the design and manufacture of HEPA vacuums, air scrubbers and dust extractor systems that not only improve worker health and safety, they meet or exceed environmental and safety standards, passing on these benefits to contractors working in construction, abatement and restoration.

In our search for a partner in the dust extraction and air cleaning industry, we looked at several variables. The natural first choice here is the durability and quality of the equipment. We find the Ermator line second to none in terms of durability, ease of use, efficiency and power. The variety of machines also match well with the different grinder and equipment sizes available.

Ermator’s approach to quality control is unmatched. For instance, every single HEPA filter is individually tested and certified at filtration rate 99.99% at 0.3 microns. Other recent innovations include the Longopac system for dust-free bag changes, Jet Pulse filter cleaning, a unique power tool power outlet with an automatic on/off trigger, a specially designed drop-down disposal, a sound alarm for clogged/broken HEPA filters and proactive maintenance features like manometers and hour meters, which warn you when filter is clogged or broken.

The service and support Ermator provides is also unmatched. Runyon Surface Prep has had Ermator reps assisting us at all times and when necessary traveling to ensure our customers are taken care of.  The staff is knowledgeable, responsive and very easy to work with. The Ermator group has been everything we could ask from a partner manufacturer.

Pullman Ermator Professional Vacuum Line
Pullman Ermator vacuums are ideal for a large variety of concrete and general construction applications. These seven short clips demonstrate the many uses and benefits of equipment pairings, wet/dry vacs and each major vacuum model (T18000, T8600, S50, S26 and S13).

Ermator Dust Extraction Equipment Pairings

Ermator HEPA Dust Extractors are shown working with various grinders, shot blasters, drills and chisels to display their superior dust extraction capabilities.

W2000/2 Wet Vac with Pre-Separator

This video demonstrates how to use the W2000/2 Wet Vacuum with Pre-Separator, and its ability to reduce water usage while maintaining a slurry free environment. Ideal for coring, saw cutting and grinding, it uses a high pressure oil cooled pump to extract the slurry and filter the liquid into clean water that can be re-used by pumping back to the machine, or to a containment tank for disposal.

Pullman Ermator T18000 Vacuum

The most powerful on the market today, this video shows the T18000 HEPA Dust Extractor in action on a variety of equipment, demonstrating amazing dust control. Greatly expanded pre-filter surface area acts as a built-in pre-separator providing superior cyclonic separation for long, uninterrupted service periods. The T18000 produces plenty of airflow to handle a single four-head grinder or two each three-head grinders, and is the only extractor that can keep up with a larger shaver.

Pullman Ermator T8600 Vacuum

This video shows the dust extraction ability of the Ermator T8600 HEPA Vacuum in a variety of different applications. This is one of the most popular and commonly used dust extractors in concrete polishing, as it pairs well with our 32″ floor grinders, namely the HTC 800 and Husqvarna PG 820, and the T8600 Propane unit with our CPS G-320D and STI 3030 floor grinders.

Pullman Ermator S50 Vacuum

This video shows the Ermator S50 HEPA Dust Extractor, an industrial strength wet dry 120 HEPA vacuum that features dual HEPA filters, an outlet for power tools and a variable speed motor, which allows the operator to adjust suction power according to circuit breaker capacity.

Pullman Ermator S26 Vacuum

This video shows the dust extraction ability of the Ermator S26 HEPA Dust Extractor, a single-motor wet and dry vacuum that can be operated in conjunction with a power tool. The S26 has two HEPA filters that are specially designed for wet or dry usage. Its tank holds up to 11 gallons, and can be used with or without a bag.

Pullman Ermator S13 Vacuum

This video shows the single motor Ermator S13 HEPA Dust Extractor, which can be connected to electrical, hand-operated power tools to extract freshly cut, friable concrete dust. The model S13 is also an effective all-around construction vacuum for picking-up a wide range of building materials and debris. Comes with 16-foot, 1.5″ hose, wand and floor tool. Includes a 6 mil, 10-gallon disposable poly bag for dust-free handling and disposal.