Dust control is vital in any manufacturing industry. A well-built, fit-for-purpose dust control system will:
- Protect operators from harmful dust
- Prevent explosions
- Reduce housekeeping and minimise breakdowns
- Improve product quality by preventing cross contamination
- Protect the environment
Employees are the most valuable asset to any business. As well as a moral obligation to protect your work force you have a legal obligation under COSHH to control emissions into the workplace.
Some materials can pose a risk if they escape into the atmosphere. For example: In pharmaceutical processes there may be steroids, hormones or narcotics in use and if the operator is exposed to them – by breathing them or touching them, it can cause adverse side effects such as respiratory illness, skin reactions and other physiological effects.
Another example is dust that is produced in the construction materials industry that can also have serious effects on the health of your employees. Exposure to dust, especially silica, can cause serious skin conditions and even damage to the lungs and airways.
The main dust related diseases include:
- Lung Cancer
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
The HSE sets a long term Workplace Exposure Limit for every industry and a full list can be found on the HSE website. Breaching of these standards can result in severe penalties, loss of productivity due to employee sickness and even legal action. For small or large businesses, looking after employee health by reducing dust exposure is vitally important.
Substances regularly used in manufacturing processes such as metal dusts, wood dusts, cellulose, corn-starch, dextrin, lactose, stearic acid and various other organic ingredients, all have the potential to explode.
Manufacturing processes and equipment can create a ‘dust cloud’. When this cloud is suspended and mixed with air and exposed to an ignition source it can cause catastrophic, even fatal, explosions.
You can take steps to reduce explosive hazards. Look at where you position equipment and ensure there are no leakage points around handling systems that produce dust. Also, install the correct dust extraction equipment, built to the correct ATEX rated standard.
Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) requires that hazardous area classifications for flammable dusts should be undertaken in the same manner as that for flammable gases and vapours.
Reduce Housekeeping & Minimise Breakdowns
If dust emissions can be controlled at source this will prevent egress of dust into the wider production environment. Less or no dust in the production environment means housekeeping tasks can be minimised. It also means that machinery productivity won’t be impaired by being clogged up with dust. This will save on maintenance requirements and prevent costly breakdowns making the process more productive and reducing operator intervention, thereby saving money.
If cross-contamination with other materials occurs in your process it can impact on product quality and safety and can result in an unusable end product which has a negative effect of productivity and profitability.
Some ingredients and materials are often extremely costly so maximising product yield is an important consideration.
Protect the Environment
With processes that are vented to atmosphere you have a legal obligation to comply with emissions. The EPA – The Environmental Protection Act 1990 for waste management and control of emissions into the environment requires your business to keep emissions at a certain level; this can be achieved by filtering your air and removing contaminants.
To find out more about why your business may need to rethink dust control equipment. Or for an inspection visit by one of our qualified LEV engineers contact Dustcheck on 01782 599454 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org