Excessive dust found in the workplace could be tremendously harmful on different levels. Primarily, while it’s rare, a concentrated cloud of dust could potentially explode and lead to fatal explosions. However, among the most common issue related to workplace dust is from associated illnesses that have been shown to be among the top killers concerning occupational safety and health.
Common Dust Related Illnesses and Associated Industries
Below is a list of the top occupational environments where harmful workplace dust could be found:
- Construction Sites: common dust sources include asbestos and cement
- Quarries and Mines: sources include coal, silica, and flint
- Carpentry: common sources include wood
- Textiles: common sources include leather and similar textile types
- Agriculture and Farming: grain dust
- Mills and Bakeries: flour dust
Workers could contract a wide array of medical conditions and illnesses due to their work in dust-filled workplaces. Likewise, depending on specific nature of an individual’s occupation, some of these health conditions could be more severe than others. These dust-related health conditions commonly include damage to the nose and eyes, asthma, various skin conditions like rashes, certain cancers, silicosis, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and pneumoconiosis, which is an umbrella term used for diseases resulting from silicosis or asbestosis. These secondary diseases cause scarring or inflammation of lung tissues.
Reducing and Preventing Dust-Related Health Risks
The government and relevant authorities on occupational safety and health have plenty of legislations that specify provisions directly aimed at reducing and preventing health risks associated with dust. It is, however, up to an employer to implement these safety protocols in order to reduce or completely eliminate hazardous dust in the workplace.
For example, a dilution ventilation system with downdraft tables could help in the even dispersion of dust in a specific site instead of enabling it to accumulate into a potentially harmful concentrated mass, while an exhaust ventilation system could eliminate dust from a specific area. In addition, apart from implementing the use of breathing respirators and proper clothing, employers must likewise conduct frequent health checkups on workers in order to detect any early indications of dust-related ailments.