Control of Substances Hazardous to Health - COSHH Level 2 (VTQ)

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Different types of dust

Video 21 of 49
5 min 40 sec
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Understanding Dust Risks in the Workplace

Types and Sources of Dust

Dust in the workplace can originate from various substances and forms, including:

  • Wood Dust: Generated from cutting wood in timber yards or using wood-based products.
  • Concrete Dust: Common on construction sites and poses respiratory and slip hazards.
  • Flour Dust: Found in bakeries and can contaminate work areas and products.

Impact and Hazards

Dust poses significant risks, not only as a respiratory hazard but also as a contaminant and slip hazard. Construction is particularly affected, with silica dust being a major concern.

Main Types of Dust:

  • Silica Dust: Commonly found in construction materials like concrete and stone, poses severe health risks.
  • Wood Dust: Generated from cutting or processing wood, leading to respiratory issues.

Health Risks and Statistics

Exposure to dust can lead to serious health issues, including lung cancer, silicosis, COPD, and asthma. Construction workers are at high risk due to prolonged exposure.

Key Statistics:

  • Over 500 deaths annually are attributed to silica exposure in construction.
  • Approximately 4000 deaths yearly from COPD linked to workplace dust exposure.

Prevention and Control Measures

Effective control of dust involves proactive measures to limit its production and prevent airborne dispersion.

Control Strategies:

  • Material Selection: Opt for building materials requiring less cutting or preparation to reduce dust generation.
  • Tool Usage: Employ less powerful tools or alternative methods to minimize dust production.
  • Dust Suppression: Use water to dampen dust clouds during operations, ensuring adequate moisture levels.
  • Vacuum Extraction: Utilize industrial vacuum units to extract dust at the source, suitable for various industries.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

While masks and respirators offer protection, they should complement dust control measures, not replace them entirely.


  • Proper Usage: Masks should be face-fit tested and worn correctly to ensure effectiveness.
  • Limitations: Masks may not provide adequate protection in high-risk tasks or when filters become clogged.


Reducing dust exposure requires a multifaceted approach, including control measures, proper equipment usage, and environmental considerations.