The Dangers of Dust
Dust is everywhere – in our homes, in public spaces and in our workplaces. It seems like a harmless little inconvenience, perhaps a sign that a place could do with a little tidy up, but nothing to seriously worry about.
Unfortunately this is not always the case. Depending on the location, dust can be made up of many different combinations of particles. Dust that we find around our house is generally made up of a combination of hair particles, skin cells, bacteria, soil particles, clothing fibres, pollen, dust mites and tiny pieces of plastic. This is often described as ‘nuisance dust’, as it is largely harmless in small quantities – however exposure to excessive amounts could cause breathing difficulties.
Hazardous dust, as you have probably guessed from the name, poses a much greater threat to our health. This term covers a broad range of different dust, including silica dust, wood dust and asbestos fibres, which each provide a different threat. These types of dust, when inside our bodies, can cause a number of different illnesses and complications, from asthma to lung cancer.
Understanding the Dangers of Dust
While it is impossible to completely avoid dust in the workplace, it is important to understand the danger it can pose in order to keep employees safe. It is thought that asbestos is responsible for around 5000 people every year in the UK, while silica dust is estimated to be responsible for the death of 5 construction workers every year. Hazardous dust is a genuine threat to the lives of workers.
The danger lies in exposure over a long period of time. The finer the dust, the more danger that it can pose. When the dust particles are larger, parts of our body can work to prevent them getting into our system – nose hairs and mucus can act as a defence to protect our lungs.
The smaller the particles, though, the greater the chance of them getting into the lungs and causing damage. Even organic particles, such as wood or flour, can cause major damage to the lungs in large enough quantities, on top of the irritation that it can cause the skin, nose and eyes.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations refer to dust, and have imposed a legal limit for how much dust someone can be exposed to over a normal working day. It is an employer’s legal responsibility to make sure that they provide a safe place to work, including how much dust their staff are exposed to.
How to Protect Against the Dangers of Dust
There are a few different things that you can do to protect yourself and your workers against the dangers of dust. Of course, personal protective equipment (PPE) is absolutely vital when it comes to keeping people safe. Having the appropriate equipment, such as masks, eye protection (goggles and visors), gloves and protective clothing are all ways to counter the dangers of dust. This, coupled with better ventilation throughout your buildings, will go a long way to keeping people safe.
An equally important preventative measure is to go straight to the source and remove the dust itself. With a regular industrial cleaning service, conducted by professionals, you can ensure that your workplace is a clean and safe environment for your workforce. By removing the dust regularly, you lessen the risk that is posed to the people that work there every day.
Whether you require warehouse cleaning, factory cleaning, office cleaning or controlling and clearing a large spill, a skilled team of experts can help you fulfill your legal requirements as well as creating a much more pleasant area for your staff.
On top of the health benefits, it has been proven that workers in a clean environment are more productive, so when coupled with the decreased risk of people being off work due to illness, having a regular industrial clean is a good business decision, as well as a moral one.
If you would like a free, no obligation, quote for our industrial cleaning services, please get in touch with us today.