Prioritizing Safety in Heavy Industrial EnvironmentsPrioritizing Safety in Heavy Industrial Environments
Dust collection systems have a direct impact on employee safety, but also play a key role in eliminating harmful emissions that can impact surrounding businesses and neighborhoods.
November 16, 2023
An effective dust collection system is an essential part of keeping an industrial facility clean, safe, and compliant with regulatory standards. This is especially important in heavy industries like ready-mix, concrete, cement production, and mining, where abrasive dust poses inherent risks – wasted material, dirty plants, pollution, and dangerous work conditions. As you look to invest in your next dust collection system, ask yourself, “What steps should I take to protect my employees, assets and surrounding communities to ensure safety and maintain ongoing success?”
Explore the following five considerations to protect your people, your plant and the environment.
Choose the Right Technology
Understanding the characteristics of your dust is vital to ensure operational safety. Many dusts cause health issues if not properly controlled or can even be combustible. Because each type of dust is different, it has unique safety requirements, regulations, and equipment specifications. It is important to analyze specific dust characteristics such as particle shape, gravity, size, abrasiveness, and moisture level. This will help you determine the best dust collection technology for your operation.
Beyond dust characteristics, your dust collection partner should also take into consideration the following points during the system design process:
Ensuring accurate airflow calculations and recommending proper pickup points
Selecting the right cleaning technology based upon type of dust and environment: reverse air, pulse jet or shaker
Referencing safety data sheets (SDS) to properly recommend additional features to mitigate combustible dust risks
These considerations ensure that the collector is right for your operation and is engineered to properly collect dust and keep your people and plant safe.
Design an Easy-to-Access System
A properly engineered and sized dust collector is key to increasing production efficiencies, minimizing risk, and ensuring peak system performance. It is also key to ensuring ease of operator accessibility.
Take a silo dust collector, for example. A silo collector sits on top of a material silo, a storage structure that typically stands on average 50-100 ft off the ground. This creates potential safety risks for operators performing regular procedures and maintenance on the collector at elevated heights. That is why it is important to find a dust collection solution that makes filter media exchange a quick and seamless process. For instance, you can look for a unit that is designed with a pop in-out filter exchange that requires no tools or need to remove blow pipes. This cuts down on operator time on top of a silo, which reduces the risk of an injury or accident.
C&W’s low-profile round (LPR) silo dust collector offers pulse jet technology with cartridge filters that provide a high-performing, affordable solution for efficient dust collection.
Operators or maintenance professionals also need to regularly check readings on pressure gauges to ensure dust collection system functionality. For silo-top collectors, this can be a challenge. To prevent customers from having to climb up the silo to obtain daily air pressure readings, ask your dust collection partner for a solution that allows operators to take the pressure gauge readings at eye-level.
Add System Accessories
A dust collector’s safety performance can be enhanced with additional accessories and system components. Whether your system needs a lift frame, safety gate, a recycle system, or high-pressure sensors, work with an expert that can help specify the proper components to complete your system. Some system accessories include:
Slump Inspection Platforms: For customers specifically in ready-mix, slump inspection platforms are one way you can keep your employees safe. These platforms protect concrete mixer truck drivers when checking concrete’s slump, adding fiber additives, or washing trucks.
Anti-Overfill Systems: Also known as silo saver systems, provide protection to your silos, dust collectors, and employees by preventing the overfill of material and excess pressurization that would impact your operations.
Auto-Recycle Systems: This technology enables you to capture and return collected material to silos for convenient reuse.
A complete dust collection system can help your plant mitigate risk, increase productivity, and improve bottom-line performance. It can also create healthier work environments that minimize risk and ensure the safety of employees, processes, and assets.
Practice Safe Dust Collector Operation and Maintenance
The focus on safety in manufacturing facilities has increased significantly over time with greater public awareness and more stringent compliance regulations from regulatory bodies. In fact, the US Department of Labor recently made adjustments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) civil penalties, increasing fines by 7.7%. This makes it all the more necessary to have the proper safety measures and procedures in place for those that operate and maintain your dust collection system. Safety measures may include:
Equipping operators with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), including goggles, hard hats, masks, etc.
Making sure employees understand hazard assessments and plans
Educating employees on the presence of high-air pressure, moving parts, and high electrical voltage dangers when maintaining a dust collector
In its simplest form, a dust collection system can help employees breathe cleaner air, avoid slip and fall risks, have more visibility on-site, and avoid preventable accidents due to dust buildup. While the steps above are a great start to ensure a safer operation, the right dust collection system will help you improve operational efficiency, exceed regulatory requirements, and safeguard your employees from harmful environments.
Conduct Regular Maintenance Seminars & Operator Training
To achieve maximum efficiency of your system, make sure your team has the proper training to maintain and operate a high-performing dust collection system. With proper training, your technicians, engineers, and operators will be able to keep your system running by troubleshooting any problems that may arise. Not sure where to get started? Contact a dust collection expert to set up an educational maintenance seminar for your team.
Below is a general outline for a system maintenance seminar and training.
* Basic operating parameters
o Know your dust: size, chemistry, moisture, combustion risk
o Know your regulations and compliance standards: OSHA, MSHA, EPA, NFPA
* Mechanisms of filtration
o Cubic feet per minute (CFM): A measure of airflow, or how much air the dust collector is able to move each minute
o Area of filter media: How much total filter media is in the dust collector
o Air-to-cloth ratio: The amount of air going through each square foot of filter media each minute
Improve Your Bottom-line Performance
In addition to creating an overall healthier work environment to ensure employee stay safe and morale stays high, dust collection can also impact your operation through:
Increased production efficiencies
Preserved product integrity
Enhanced equipment performance and longevity
Eliminated monetary fines from the EPA, OSHA, or MSHA
While dust collection systems have a direct impact on the safety of employees that work in heavy industrial environments, they also play an important role in eliminating harmful emissions that can impact surrounding businesses and neighborhoods.
When it comes to safeguarding your people, processes, and the environment – trust the experts that have spent their careers designing and engineering high-performing systems that prioritize safety.
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