Exposure to any dust in excessive amounts can create chronic respiratory ill health. The harmful effects of dust can vary, from skin irritation to lung cancer, depending on the composition of the dust and the type and degree of exposure.
When all controls are applied properly it is possible to dramatically reduce the chance of dust being inhaled. Reducing dust to the lowest level possible greatly reduces the risk to your employees of developing a dust-related disease later in life.
The control measures in place should prevent the dust from reaching levels that will cause harm. Recommended control measures are:
- Only allow access to authorised staff.
- Use the right equipment. Equipment should be fitted with appropriate and well maintained dust extraction equipment. Cabs should be fitted with appropriate filtered air systems to prevent dust build up in the cab and the cab should be kept clean and the air system properly maintained to ensure its effectiveness. Hand held tools can also be controlled using dust collection equipment.
- Adequate storage should be provided and there should be defined areas for storage of dust creating materials.
- Ensure procedures to reduce dust inhalation are followed, e.g. ensure extraction is turned on and that respiratory protective equipment is checked prior to use.
- Regular maintenance of all equipment should be carried out by a competent person. Dust can be very abrasive so regular maintenance is important.
- Daily checks should be carried out to check for signs of damage to equipment.
- Get a competent ventilation engineer to examine the extraction thoroughly and test its performance at least once every 14 months.
- All records should be kept for at least 5 years and reviewed for failure patterns which might highlight where maintenance is required.
- Carry out air sampling to check that the controls are working well and to ensure you are aware of the exposure levels.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided and used. There should be a suitable storage area for all PPE to keep it clean and prevent contamination.
- Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) – select RPE that suits the wearer, the job and the work environment. Make sure all RPE is properly fit-tested. Workers should be trained to check their RPE before use.
- Clean, dust resistant overalls
- Health surveillance should be carried out unless exposure to RCS is well below the limit.
- Cleaning and housekeeping – accumulated waste should be cleared away at the end of every day and disposed of safely. All machinery and the work area should be cleaned weekly.
- Training and supervision – workers should be informed of the dangers presented by dust. Working in the correct way and using the controls correctly is important for exposure control – employees should be trained and supervised.
If you feel that you may have work processes that could expose employees to fumes, dusts, etc which may lead to respirable ill health please do not hesitate to contact ProAktive who would be happy to work with you to identify the problem and put in place sensible controls to reduce the risk of employee ill health. Speak to one of our Risk Advisers today on 01302 341344.