Construction dust: Soft strip demolition

Soft strip demolition can produce high levels of dust. Effective control is necessary because this work can be high risk. This page tells you how to control the risk and why. You also need to be aware of the general information on construction dust.

What you must do

Follow the Assess, Control and Review model. Pay particular attention to the following things:


Identify and assess: Soft strip demolition can produce high dust levels. The risk will depend on how much material you are removing and what it contains. It will be higher risk if it contains silica or wood dust. Anyone breathing in this dust cloud will be affected. Those doing the work will be particularly at risk. Follow the control steps below.


Prevent: Think about limiting the risks before work starts by:

  • carefully planning the work
  • limiting the number of people that need to be in the work area
  • screening off areas to prevent dust spreading

Control: Even if you minimise some of the dust this way, soft strip demolition can still produce dust. Control the risk by:

  • Water or on-tool extraction – use water suppression or on-tool extraction for those tasks where it is possible.
  • Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) – you also need RPE with an assigned protection factor of 20 (eg FFP3 disposable mask or half mask with a P3 filter). Make sure it is compatible with other items of protective equipment. For longer duration work (ie over an hour without a break) consider powered RPE with the same protection (eg TH2 powered hood/helmet). Fit testing is needed for tight fitting masks.
  • Ventilation – get natural ventilation into the work area, eg by opening windows. Enclosed spaces may also need general mechanical ventilation to improve circulation and provide clean air.


Supervise: Ensure controls are properly used and RPE is worn correctly. Anyone using tight fitting masks also needs to be clean-shaven and face-fit tested.

Maintain: Regularly look for signs of damage to water suppression or dust extraction equipment. Someone competent should examine any dust extraction equipment thoroughly and test its performance at least once every 14 months.

Monitor: Decide if you need a health surveillance programme. This depends on the amount and type of dust people are breathing. You may need competent advice for this from an occupational health professional. See:

What you should know

This work often takes place over many hours/days and usually indoors. This means that high dust levels can build up that you are breathing for long periods. Depending on the type of dust, this can cause serious lung diseases like cancer, silicosis and COPD. These diseases cause permanent disability and early death. Use the controls above every time you do this work to limit the amount of dust you breathe. This will stop any damage to the lungs building up over time.

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Updated 2021-08-06