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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The Importance of Surface Prep for Decorative Epoxy Flooring

One of our customers in Florida, Artistic Surfaces, is a prime example for how important it is properly prep your concrete before putting down a coating – whether it be an epoxy, overlay, etc. Below are four different epoxy jobs that their crew completed recently, courtesy of Sam Godbey, the Director of Operations at Artistic. The pictures don’t do them complete justice, but it is very evident surface preparation played a major role, and we were happy to have a part in that.

Charcoal Metallic Floor

This 3,600 square foot charcoal floor is owned by a high profile client. It’s a private residence, used to store the owner’s cars, sports memorabilia, and other appropriately coined “toys”.

Artistic prepped the surface with an HTC 800, Ermator T8600 and 25 grit HTC diamonds. This is a grey epoxy with a combo of Sterling, Onyx and Quick Silver metallic pigments.

Harley Quinn-esque Floor

This blue and pink metallic floor looks like cotton candy. It is located in a residential dressing room. Artistic partnered with Coastal Construction for this job.

They prepped the surface with an HTC 500 and 25 grit HTC diamonds. It’s an epoxy with black pigment base and metallic pigment colors Surfs Up and Merlot.

Black & Aluminum Striped Bar

This black and aluminum striped floor is located in a 5,500 square foot bar called the Escape Lounge. The epoxy was poured with a black base and then the aisles were taped out in a curved design and colored with Aluminum metallic.

An HTC 800 and 25 grit diamonds were used to prep the surface. Artistic also used CTS Rapid Set TRU self-leveling overlay in the back of the bar. The black portion of the epoxy floor was pigmented with Jet Black metallic and the stripes were pigmented with Aluminum metallic.

Intricately Designed Office Floor

Artistic recently re-did their 1,300 square foot office floor. They cut off the old white overlay and transitioned it to an epoxy metallic floor. They kept the same detailed saw-cut design work.

To prep the surface, Artistic used a 60 grit screen and floor buffer. This epoxy floor required a myriad of metallic pigment colors for all the intricate designs: Copper, Butterscotch, Merlot, Mother-of-Pearl, Surfs Up, Rose, Maui and Jet Black.

After putting down the metallics, they used a regular blade and v-blade to re-cut the saw-cut designs. Then they filled the cuts with black grout. And finally, they re-sanded the floor and put down 2 clear coats of epoxy.

About Artistic Surfaces

Artistic Surfaces was founded in 1989 by Harvey Namm after 25 years’ experience in flooring. The Company soon became an award winning flooring contractor in the Florida market installing flooring in stores like; Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Burdines, and Saks 5th Avenue. Luxury hotels, Art Galleries, Airport Terminals, Performing Arts Centers, Sporting Arenas and other venues were added as the years passed.

In the winter of 2009, Artistic Surfaces launched a new division for decorative concrete. This new division will capitalize on the emerging demand for interior and exterior decorative concrete flooring. This new division marked the company’s entry as the area’s most experienced design applicators for decorative concrete concepts.

*All photos and information courtesy of Sam Godbey – Director of Operations at Artistic Surfaces. Reach him at SamG@artisticsurfaces.com.

The Time is Now to be OSHA-Ready for New Crystalline Silica Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

The new OSHA regulation, Respirable crystalline silica, Section 29 CFR 1926.1153, took effect on June 23, 2016. Industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction – June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date.

General Industry and Maritime – June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.

Employers who fully and properly implement the engineering controls, work practices and respiratory protections are not required to measure respirable silica exposures to verify levels at or below the PEL for workers.

For contractors, this means now is the time to make sure your equipment will comply.

OSHA Enforcement Table

(Fine information supplied from Contractor Supply Magazine)

About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces. This includes 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in brick manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing.

Who Is Affected?

Anyone working on a construction site who creates or is exposed to silica dust in the course of performing work, including, but not limited to:

  • Grinding
  • Drilling
  • Barrel mixing
  • Edging
  • Cutting block
  • Sweeping
  • Shot blasting
  • Hand Grinding
  • Scarifying
  • Drywall sanding
  • Demolition
  • Precasting
  • Bricklaying
  • Broom sweeping

Key Provisions of the New Crystalline Silica Rule

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.

New Exposure Limits

New Silica Exposure LimitsChanges to the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) of respirable crystalline silica is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (50μg/m3) at an 8-hour, time-weighted average (TWA) under any foreseeable conditions. The Action Level (AL) is 25 ug/m3 (0.025 mg/m3). You are at risk if the dust you breathe during an eight-plus-hour shift contains more RCS than the accessible amount, which is much smaller than a penny. 

How to Choose a HEPA Vacuum

  • High quality HEPA filters that are tested and certified, with a rating of at least 99.99 at 0.3 micron
  • 25 CFM per blade is required for hand grinders
  • High CFM & Water Lift for proper matching to equipment
  • Must have a mechanical filter cleaning method that is contained and allows no dust to escape
  • Multi levels of filtration, including a cyclonic chamber, pre-filters, HEPA’s and pre-separators
  • Drop down bagging containment systems, no dust can or tray
  • Availability to attach tools for collection at the source
  • Wet and dry availability when needed

For an in-depth look at the new regulation, read our blog, The New Crystalline Silica Rule – Are You OSHA-Ready?

Runyon Surface Prep is a full service stocking distributor for all your concrete prep, polishing, decorative, repair, restoration and maintenance needs. We carry the full line of Ermator vacuums and pre-separators, as well as grinders, removal equipmentoverlay productscolor products, densifiersmixersdiamond toolingpolyasparticsjoint fillers and much more. You name it, we have it!

Have You Considered the Benefits of an Ermator Extraction System?

It may be easy to forget the importance of vacuums, dust extractors and pre-separators within the surface preparation context, especially when overshadowed by grinders and polishers. However, extraction systems are important, not simply as an afterthought. A large industrial vacuum manufacturer in the industry is Ermator – “the world’s leading innovator in the design and manufacture of HEPA vacuums and air scrubbers that dramatically improve worker health and safety” (Courtesy of Ermator USA).

2013 4-5 Husqvarna Ad

The industrial vacuum industry boasts many innovations, and Ermator has led the way. Its HEPA dust extraction system exceeds environmental and safety standards and benefits other industries significantly – construction, abatement and restoration. Additional innovations within the industry include:

  • Longopac system for dust-free bag changes
  • Jet Pulse filter cleaning
  • Power outlet with automatic on/off
  • Drop-down disposal
  • Sound alarm for clogged or broken HEPA filters
  • Proactive maintenance features like manometers and hour meters

HEPA extractors fit any grinder, electric saw, jackhammer or drill to eliminate dust and dirt as you prep your floors, meaning less handling and hauling after the fact.  In this regard, the HEPA Extractor System complements grinding and polishing by improving surface preparation, saving time and money and increasing compatibility. Major benefits of using an extractor alongside a grinder or polisher include:

  • Maximizing grinder performance
  • Increasing surface visibility
  • Increasing life of diamonds and other abrasives
  • Less dust contamination between cuts
  • Fast, high volume recovery of dust without clogging and interruption
  • Easy and efficient filter cleaning
  • Compatible with all diamond surface grinders
  • Compatible with sanders, scarifiers, hand power saws and drills

For your next industrial floor application, consider a HEPA extraction system from Ermator to clean up dust and dirt while you polish or grind. Not only will this keep your work environment safe and efficient, but it will keep your floors shiny and clean. If you would like to know more about the Ermator products we offer, click here. And for your chance to win a free Ermator S50 vacuum, register here.

Choose the Correct Heavy-Duty Vacuum Cleaner for Your Task

Industrial Wet-Dry Vacuum

Why do Floors Need Regular Vacuuming?

Floors are subject to frequent abuse, especially in commercial and industrial settings. Accumulation of dirt and grime, grease stains, mud stains and more can damage a floor to such an extent that regular sweeping cannot restore. Moreover, the odds are that bathrooms would have clogged drains and perennially wet floors. All of this mandates that industrial and commercial floors be vacuumed periodically over and above the regular cleaning process.

Equipment Needed for Vacuuming:

Process of Vacuuming:

  1. Clean the Floor: Brush away debris and other large specks of waste from the floor
  2. Apply a Stain Solver: This should be mixed with water, and applied over the stains and spots, as per the instructions that come with the stain solver.
  3. Use a Wet Dry Vacuum: Run an industrial wet dry vacuum that sucks away not just specks of dust, but also liquids.
  4. Cover All Corners: Run the vacuum hose over the surface, reaching into corners, concealed places and holes. It is best to start from the far end and work your way closer, vacuuming in strips.
  5. Vacuum All Places Which May Have Dirt: It may also be expedient to run the vacuum cleaner over lamp shades, curtain hooks, grooves and other places in the walls where dirt may accumulate.
  6. Bathrooms: When using the wet/dry vacuum cleaner in the bathrooms, make sure to run the vacuum over
    • The sump pit, to remove residual dirt, muck and grit
    • Drains, to unclog debris and dirt that may have seeped in and impede the flow of water
  7. Emptying the Vacuum Cleaner: Lift the lid and empty the bucket, when full. This depends on the size of the vacuum cleaner. Smaller models hold half a gallon of liquid, whereas large scale industrial versions can hold up to 20 gallons of liquid and debris.

The powerful air intake of the industrial wet dry vacuum gets the job done without much preparatory work. Such vacuum cleaners also have a better suction and bucket system that allow them to suck up liquids.