Dust in the Workplace - Compliance with Safety and Regulators
If you work in an industrial setting, you may have had to deal with a great deal of dust. You might think that dust is harmless, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Under the right conditions, dust can become toxic and combustible. Combustible means that accumulated dust can cause a serious explosion.
When dust becomes airborne it settles on surfaces throughout facilities. It is believed that 1/32 of an inch (the size of a paper clip) of dust covering more than 5% of a room’s surface can cause an explosion (there are variations to this rule of thumb depending on a number of factors). In order for an explosion to happen, a “fire triangle” must occur. Dust is one element; the other elements are oxygen and an ignition source, (a spark). When combined with other factors, these elements mix and can cause a “dust explosion pentagon”.
TOXIC METALS DUST
Toxic metals, including "heavy metals" are individual metals and metal compounds that along with many other forms of dust can negatively affect people's health. Exposing workers to dust on a job site can contribute to a number of health risks, and it is imperative that companies employ approved safety measures to minimize dust levels within their facilities.
WorkSafe regulation and guidelines protect foundry and other facilities employees by reducing worker exposure to hazardous dust such as; crystalline silica, asbestos and a range of metal dust including arsenic and lead in the air on a job site and stresses the need for new and improved clean-up techniques. Cleaning up dust by using compressed air, sweeping and shoveling or other methods that can volatize dust are being replaced by industrial vacuum loaders equipped with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems and auto baggers to package dust.
HEPA filters are certified to remove at least 99.97% of dust particles from the air, down to 0.3 microns in size. Once these particles are removed by vacuum, they’re trapped in the filter before the air is exhausted and can’t escape back into the environment.
MANY FORMS OF DUST INCLUDING METAL DUST CAN BE COMBUSTIBLE
The most effective way to tackle hazardous dust accumulation is by use of an industrial HEPA vacuum specifically designed for the purpose. Enviro-Vac utilizes a series of these powerful vacuums to tackle dust build-up in in manufacturing plants and other facilities, where dust is generated and accumulated, typically on horizontal surfaces such as beams, ducting and lighting.
Enviro-Vac’s portfolio of operational experience coupled with our comprehensive safety training in hazardous materials abatement and industrial vacuuming, decontamination and plant cleanup enable the development of innovative and safe solutions for a verity of decontamination projects including overhead cleaning and industrial plant dust down. All our projects include a detailed risk-assessment, job safety analysis and site-specific safe work procedures.
Enviro-Vac is one of the oldest privately owned environmental contractors in Canada that offer a full suite of services in hazardous materials abatement and decontamination including negative pressure shrink-wrap containments and industrial vacuum services and are available to work both small and large-scale projects across Canada. The head office is based in Surrey, BC.
If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about hazardous materials abatement solutions, decontamination of facilities, high-risk containments or industrial vacuum cleaning, please call us on our toll-free number, (888) 296-2499.