If you, your co-workers or employees are engaging in wall chasing work, make sure its being done in accordance with workplace health and safety laws, WorkSafe WA recently warned.
In the latest safety warning, WorkSafe highlighted that exposure to dust and carbon monoxide, noise, saw, kick-back and serious cuts are just a few of the possible risks that construction workers could face. It’s crucial that the appropriate measures are taken to ensure workers aren’t unduly exposed to the risks.
A particularly concerning risk is exposure to carbon monoxide because it is a commonly overlooked risk yet it can be fatal.
WorkSafe warned employers that wall chasing when using a petrol-powered chasing saw without exhaust extraction or within walls is above legal occupational exposure standard.
The effects of this on workers includes headaches, difficulty thinking, nausea, disorientation, personality changes, hearing problems, delayed reactions, nerve damage and paralysis, heart and lung damage, coma and death, WorkSafe said.
If we take into consideration that chasing concrete can produce very high levels of silica containing dust, anyone breathing in this dust cloud is at risk. Other than those involved in the work itself, those in close proximity to the grinder will be particularly at risk.
What can be done to address the hazard?
Prevention is always better than cure, so thinking about the risks before beginning work will help us limit the need for chasing at initial design stages or plan how to use this work method within limits.
Prevention isn’t always feasible, in which case we need to control the risks. Controls help minimise the risks caused by the chasing work.
Controls may include grinders with on-tool extraction or hose connections that a tightly fitted and secured to prevent leaks.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) are another type of control. Employers should determine the appropriate PPE such as masks. They also need to ensure workers are provided with the equipment and the necessary training on these PPE.
Supervision should also play an important role in chasing work. Those supervising need to ensure that controls are being utilised properly and PPE are correctly used. They should also ensure equipment is tested and well maintained.
Checking on equipment regularly, at least on a weekly basis will ensure they remain effective and any faults are addressed quickly.
It’s also a good idea to implement a health surveillance programme to ensure workers are safe.
Finally ensure workers engaged in this work have received the necessary safety training.