Dustless Practice Elevates Safety and Productivity at MTR South Island Line (East) 901 Project

Dust is a bane for the construction industry. But in a tunnel where ventilating in an enclosed environment is especially challenging, removing dust is critical for both workers’ health and productivity as well as quality construction.

Past deployments focused on removing dust that is created by construction practices, including drilling, grinding and cutting concrete in confined areas such as tunnels. It often involves filtering

and funneling the air out of the environment, so workers do not have to heavily depend on their personal protective equipment. This often leads to longer project schedules, higher costs, man hours wasted in cleaning up areas for further construction work, for example cleaning up for rebar installation, and requiring workers to wear uncomfortable gear.

Hilti SAFEset technology takes a different tact: it concentrates on ensuring virtually zero dust is produced when drilling into concrete. According to Safety Manager of Kier-Laing O'Rourke-Kaden Joint  Venture (KLKJV), the main contractor for the MTR South Island Line (East) 901 Project, the team was impressed with the technology, especially with the dustless drilling.

“Drilling, grinding or cutting concrete in confined areas such as tunnels can release large amounts of dust which can lead to long term health effects. Dust removal technology is welcome to protect people
better from dust and speed up the project schedule.”

With SAFEset, the hollow drill bit removes concrete dust by a connected vacuum cleaner as the borehole is drilled. This means that workers do not have to do further cleaning before the chemical mortar is injected. This ensures the rebar installation process and loading performance complies with international standards. An added benefit is a significant reduction of dust in the working environment.

A study of a similar project in Australia, Brisbane City Council’s Legacy Way tunnel, demonstrated SAFEset’s economic benefits when compared with traditional drills for installing N20 reinforcing bars 
bonded 270mm into segment:

  • Concrete dust removed:

              about 33 metric tons

  • Time saved per drilling hole and hole cleaning:

               about 55%

  • Manhour saved for drilling 103,200 holes:

             about 2,866 hrs

KLKJV agrees that Dustless Practice should be implemented in more job sites. They are driving awareness and improving uptake by making it easier for contractors to adopt new technology.

“Funding for award winners to enhance safety are offered to contractors to encourage smart use of technology to improve productivity and reduce human errors,” said KLKJV.

“Dustless practice implementation at confined areas for MTR tunnel projects are best fit solution to increase productivity and improve visibility for enhancing safety,” concluded KLKJV.