Dust, those pesky fine particles of matter, get everywhere.
We live with dust every day, in small quantities, and other than having to nip around the house with the duster every once in a while, it’s usually nothing more than an annoyance.
At work, however, dust can cause problems. Especially when it is produced in larger quantities.
Dust can be created through cutting, sanding, drilling, demolishing, and shovelling materials.
Dust at work can be categorised as nuisance dust or hazardous dust.
Nuisance dust is, as the name suggests, a nuisance.
It can make work uncomfortable and less safe. Why? Because it can cause visibility issues, create slip hazards, and in large quantities, it can cause irritation to the nose, throat and eyes, and make breathing difficult.
Hazardous dust can cause problems beyond irritation.
Some hazardous dusts such as flour dust and some wood dusts are known to cause asthma, and others such as asbestos and silica dust can cause fatal illnesses such as cancer.
Don’t just worry about the dust you can see. Some of the most harmful dusts, such as asbestos, can be invisible to the eye, so you might not even be aware of their presence.
If you work in a dusty environment, or create dust as part of your work activities you need to dust yourself off, literally.
In the first instance, look at how dust could be eliminated, or if this is not possible, then dust must be controlled.
Often, your first instinct could be to grab a dust mask, but actually, PPE is a last line of defence.
Wearing a dust mask may still be necessary, but you should also look at extraction, collection and damping down, as this can minimise dust spread.
This will not only reduce the risk to you, but also others who may be affected by your work, by reducing the dust spread.
Reducing the dust in the environment will also have other benefits such as improving visibility and minimising fire and explosion risks.
Remember, dust exposure should be controlled. Dust off your knowledge with our Dust Toolbox Talk.