Dust mask testing

John writes:

Last week I ran a refresher with the team at Crossrail Anglia to check fitting of dust masks.

A dust mask has to fit properly over the mouth and nose to give adequate protection. Qualitative testing makes sure that the masks fit. This ensures that workers don’t breathe in harmful particulates from cement dust.

Workers fit their masks as usual, and then put on a hood into which I spray denatonium benzonate, a bitter-tasting chemical. The chemical is unpleasant but not harmful: as long as the mask is properly fitted, they don’t taste it at all. The photo shows Pat Reagan successfully doing the test.

concrete retaining wall at Crossrail Anglia
Building a concrete retaining wall at Crossrail Anglia

It is important to ensure that people are wearing the proper safety PPE for the task.

Our work for Costain on Crossrail Anglia includes installing concrete bases for signalling systems, and concrete foundations for retaining walls. Concrete cutting produces dust which can contain silica, a harmful compound when inhaled. Breathing in silica can cause scar tissue on the lungs (silicosis). This is one of the things we do to control these risks.


John Hannan, HSQE director
Author: John Hannan, HSQE director



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