Dusty Southern California Demolitions

Demolition jobsites often can create a lot of dust. Silica Dust exposure (silicosis) is quite common in the construction industry. This preventable encumbrance causes hundreds of deaths each year as millions are exposed and at risk in the United States alone.

Construction trades and tasks in danger of silica dust exposure:

  • Removal of paint and rust with power tools
  • Abrasive blasting of bridges, pipes, tanks, and other painted surfaces especially while using silica sand
  • Grinding mortar
  • Abrasive blasting of concrete (many bridges and buildings are made of concrete)
  • Crushing, loading, hauling, chipping, hammering, drilling, and dumping of rock or concrete

Chipping, hammering, drilling, sawing, and grinding concrete or masonry;

Demolition of concrete and masonry structures;

Dry sweeping or pressurized air-blowing of concrete or dust; or Jackhammering on various materials.


SoCal Removal will use engineering controls whenever possible to control silica dust exposures. SoCal Removal will not use abrasives that contain more than 1% crystalline silica during blasting operations.

Andre Abajian and the designated competent person for SoCal Removal is responsible for inspecting and maintaining engineering controls at all jobs/tasks where silica exposure hazards have been identified.


Substitute with less hazardous materials:

Do not use silica sand or other substances containing more than 1% crystalline silica as abrasive blasting materials.

Dust-reduction systems:

During operations in which powered tools or equipment are used to cut, grind, core, or drill concrete or masonry materials, a dust-reduction system will be applied to effectively reduce airborne particulate. Exceptions include operations where it can be shown the PEL is not exceeded, roofing operations with tile, pavers or similar materials; and during the first 24 hours of an emergency operation.

Dust Extraction:

Wherever possible, concrete cutting and drilling equipment should be fitted with collection devices to eliminate generated dust at the source. A vacuum with a high- efficiency particle air (HEPA) filter can be used to remove dust from work areas. Wear an appropriate respirator when PELs are approached or exceeded.

Wet work:

Where dust extraction is not practical, airborne silica dust can be minimized or reduced by applying water to the process or cleans up. When sawing or drilling concrete or masonry, use saws/drills that provide water to the blade. A respirator may still need to be worn during wet work.

Wet clean up may also be used to remove dust.

Waste material will be stored at designated, clearly marked location and will be removed at least weekly.


Use containment methods such as blast-cleaning cabinets when sandblasting. Cabs of vehicles or machinery cutting or drilling through rock that might contain silica should be enclosed and sealed.


Use local exhaust systems to remove silica dust from industrial processes. Dilution ventilation may be used to reduce the silica dust concentration to below the PELs in large areas.

Adequate measures will be taken to ensure that discharge does not produce health hazards to the outside environment. A dust collector will be set up so that accumulated dust can be removed without contaminating work areas.

  • Ventilation systems will be inspected and maintained by a person designated
  • Ventilation systems will be checked at least weekly to determine if they are functioning properly

Communication is Key RESTRICTED AREAS

  • Post warning signs in areas where silica exposure already exists or is possible
  • Unauthorized employees should not be allowed in restricted areas

Warning signs will contain one or both of the following:



Whenever practical, working where silica dust may be created should be done:

  • In non-enclosed areas
  • Downwind from other employees
  • In regulated/restricted areas
  • When other workers are not around
  • Dry sweeping and the use of compressed air are prohibited for removing dust in jobs/task identified as having silica exposure hazards.
  • Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that work areas are free from dust at the end of each shift.
  • Remove dust on overhead ledges, floors and equipment before it becomes airborne due to traffic, vibration and random air current
  • Gentle wash down of surfaces is preferable if practical for safety and SoCal Removal


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should only be used when engineering and administrative controls do not provide adequate worker protection and reduce the PELs below recommended limits. PPE is the last line of defense for fighting silicosis. The PPE that may be required when performing construction work includes, but is not limited to:

    • Hard Hats
    • Gloves
    • Coveralls
    • Eye Protection
    • Safety Shoes or Boots

Dust Masks or Respirators


Only when all engineering or administrative controls have been implemented, and the level of respirable silica still exceeds permissible exposure limits, may an employer rely on a respirator program to protect workers.
When respirators are required to protect employees for silica dust exposure the company’s Respirator Program will be strictly followed.

  • The SoCal Removal or subcontractors respirator program will comply with the CAL-OSHA standards for respiratory protection; this includes proper respirator selection, medical evaluations, fit testing, cleaning and maintenance procedures, and training.
  • The company must select and provide an appropriate respirator that will effectively protect their employees
  • Respirators must be approved by NIOSH for protection against the silica PEL and provide the
    APF as specified in Table 1 of this policy
  • When abrasive blasting is done, the type C supplied-air, positive pressure, demand type abrasive blasting respirator will be worn
  • An abrasive-blasting respirator must cover the wearer’s head, neck, and shoulders to protect from rebounding abrasives

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