When dealing with high pressure and particles traveling at high velocities, safety can't be overstated enough. Follow along and we'll discuss the main blasting facts and safety tips as well as break down the requirements for dustless blasting.
Blasting Facts and Safety
There are a number of diseases out there associated with the blasting industry, like silicosis, which a blasting operator is susceptible to. Please make sure you check out the www.osha.gov website for more information. There is some good information regarding silica and its hazards at www.osha.gov/silica. This industry has so many combinations of media and blasting surfaces the hazards that go with each are difficult to list on one website. Please make sure you are reading the SDS (MSDS) sheets provided by the manufacturer for each media type and its hazards being used with specific hazards. We will try to post as much information here as we can, but please do not hesitate to reach out the manufacturers for your specific questions regarding their products. We are not a manufacturer and do not manufacturer any products.
PPE required for any type of Abrasive blasting operation.
Goggles – safety glasses do not count. You want to keep the micro particles of dust out of your eyes. This has many short term and long term effects on a person’s eyesight and health. Also check out our PPE knowledge base for more information.
Face Shield / Hood – This will keep you from getting cut by any fragments returning in your direction. Also check out our PPE knowledge base for more information.
Respirator – All respirators are not the same, make sure you purchase one specifically for your application. Positive airflow respirators are expensive but for small business and professionals it is highly recommended. Also check out our PPE knowledge base for more information.
Sandblasting suit – The prices range here from $20 to $2000. You get what you pay for in most cases but the safety of these suits helps keep the hazards away from the house. Also check out our PPE knowledge base for more information.
Work Boots – Depending on your application it is good to have protective work boots on. Some sites require specific types of boots be worn.
Gloves – Please make sure you use suitable gloves for you application.
Hearing Protection – Due to the frequencies of the compressors hearing protection is required.
Please take a look at OSHA’s Guidelines for the Abrasive Media Blasting process.
Dustless Blasting Breakdown
Dustless blasting or vapor abrasive blasting sure seems like the cure all to the media blasting process. It is a huge step in the process for many reasons, which we will discuss HERE. The human safety concerns do NOT change from other types of Media Blasting so please do not assume that dustless blasting will remove the safety concerns and PPE requirements needed to complete the process. All abrasive blasting processes during all conditions produce dust. Let’s dive into how this process differs from the others when it comes to dust and the safety of those around it.
Dust is a byproduct of the abrasive media interaction with the surface you’re applying the media to. When the media intersects the hard surface, the material will fragment and reflect those fragments into the air. Think of it like a bullet hitting a steel plate and fragmenting into the air. These fragments will be different sizes and will create particles of dust that range in size less than that of the initial media. These smaller particles, sub particles, can be small enough to be dust that has short and long term effects on the human lungs and eyes. This dust is what the addition of water/vapor is trying to control, although it’s not 100% successful. The water’s surface tension applied to the particle will increase its combined mass and gravity will attempt to do its job. While the water does a great job in reducing the dust levels, small particles of dust can and will continue to act like dust when not sufficiently moistened and maybe unnoticeable by the operator. The danger still exsists. The same precautions and PPE should be used when applying any abrasive media to any surface even through a wet blasting system.
If you purchase a wet blasting, vapor blasting, or dustless blasting system with the belief that it will eliminate the hazards, it could be costly to your business. There are a number of diseases out there associated with the blasting industry, like silicosis, which a blasting operator is susceptible to. Please make sure you check out the www.osha.gov website for more information. There is some good information regarding silica and its hazards at www.osha.gov/silica