Factory dust poses a major threat to worker health and safety due to its potential to cause a variety of health problems. Dust is a major by-product of industrial production and is created by processes such as cutting, grinding, sanding, and other activities that generate fine particles of dust. This dust can contain a variety of substances, including metals, asbestos, and other hazardous materials. It is important for employers to understand the risks posed by dust and to take steps to reduce the amount of dust in the workplace.
OSHA’s General Duty Clause offers guidance for a variety of substances that can create dust hazards.
Respiratory and other illnesses
The most common health issue caused by factory dust is respiratory problems. Exposure to dust can cause irritation and inflammation of the airways, leading to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and even asthma. Silicosis, asbestosis, talcosis, and lung cancer are examples of occupational lung diseases.
Dust particles can also contain toxins that can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, leading to long-term health problems such as cancer and other illnesses. Studies have also linked factory dust with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Provide PPE such as coveralls and respirators or masks if dust reaches dangerous levels. Otherwise, rotate workers into different areas to avoid excessive exposure. Even benign dust can cause pneumonitis.
In addition to the health risks posed by dust, it can also be a major safety hazard. Dust can accumulate on floors and machinery, making it difficult to see or walk on. This can increase the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Dust can also accumulate in cracks and crevices, creating a fire hazard if it is ignited.
Dust can even explode. Substances that can explode when they accumulate in the form of dust include sugar, flour, paper, grain, wood, dyes, and many more — not just gunpowder.
Have the dust from your facility analyzed. If you are satisfied from the testing that it is not combustible or likely to explode, keep the results of the analysis on file. If it is combustible, make sure that you have experts evaluate your dust collection and handling procedures to make certain that they will keep your people safe.
Even dust collectors can explode, so make sure your safety practices are well thought out.
To protect workers from the risks posed by dust, employers must take steps to reduce dust levels in the workplace. This may involve using special machinery that is designed to reduce the amount of dust generated. It may also include using dust extraction systems to capture dust particles and prevent them from spreading. It is also important to ensure that the workplace is kept clean and well-ventilated.
Employers must also ensure that workers are aware of the health risks posed by dust and are trained in the proper use of safety equipment.
Some Indramat motors are intended for explosion-prone situations. If that’s what you need, we can help you get it. Otherwise, just bear in mind that your Indramat motion control systems don’t do well in dusty environments. That’s why they probably live in a cabinet. Call for immediate assistance when you need service or support for any Indramat components.