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Four Reasons to Be Proactive about Getting Rid of Dust

April 5, 2016

Dust probably doesn't seem like a major threat to a business. We're all accustomed to dust. It's been around us our entire lives and it likely hasn't caused you any personal harm that you're aware of. But dust can be deceptively toxic to a work place. The U.N. has recently targeted dust disposal in the GHS as one of its major priorities in the coming years. Here are four reasons to be proactive about getting rid of dust:

Risk of Explosion
Dust may seem benign, but if dust is floating in the air or resting all over your work space, it can ignite in the event of a fire. Dust itself will not start a fire, obviously, but in the event that a fire begins, dust can be the powder keg that escalates it from being a small mishap to an all-encompassing tragedy. An explosion involving dust in Oregon in 2010 killed 19 people and injured 53 more. Dust explosions are also typically secondary explosions that can occur while people are inside of the building trying to salvage whatever they can from the first explosion, leading to more death and destruction.

Avoiding OSHA Fines
The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) has noted the danger of dust in the work space and started targeting businesses that don't dispose of dust properly. OSHA cited 4900 violations of its recently added Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program, with fines ranging from $63,000 to $137,000 in just one year. Also, it was found recently that only 1 in 4 businesses were complying with the regulations, which could lead OSHA to pursue an even more targeted effort with harsher penalties.

Reducing Respiratory Conditions
Dust floating in the air and being inhaled is obviously not good for your lungs, especially silica dust. It can choke all the oxygen out of your lungs and also lead to serious respiratory conditions, like emphysema and bronchitis. Dust triggers asthma attacks in those who struggle with that illness and can also trigger allergies year-round, which in turn could make workers more prone to accident.

Dust Causes Accidents
Dust can also lead to injuries on the job. Dust is both a weight and a slip hazard. Dust is deceptively heavy in large quantities, sometimes weighing as much as 70 pounds per cubic foot. Disposal of this much dust can lead to back and shoulder injuries that the company will be responsible for paying off. Dust is also very slippery and can lead to injury from falls. Slips are one of the biggest causes of workplace injury each year, and dust is one of the leading causes of slipping. Being proactive in dust disposal can help prevent slips before they occur.

All things considered, proper dust disposal is a crucial element of maintaining the safety and HAZCOM procedure in one's business. It can lead to health problems, injuries, and in extreme cases, even death. By being proactive about effective dust disposal now, you can save yourself many headaches later.

    Tim Brooks is the director of marketing for Atlantic Training, Middletown, DE, a safety training company offering more than 10,000 titles in DVD, streaming, and LMS formats. Brooks handles coordination with outside partners, as well as new projects and products. For more information, visit www.atlantictraining.com.

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