Did you know that air quality monitoring and COSHH compliance can help food and woodworking manufacturers reduce workplace ill health? Earlier this year, the HSE launched a month-long campaign to tackle occupational lung disease caused by contaminated dust inhalation specifically in these industries.
The HSE’s ‘dust kills’ campaign was aimed at tackling the risks of death , particularly for occupational lung disease. Primarily, raising awareness of the dangers of long term exposure to dust in the workplace. There is also a focus on specifically targeting industries where dust and fumes are commonplace.
Setting the record straight
The construction industry is most commonly associated with risk of lung disease due to the nature of machinery/tools being used. Dust producing machinery and tools create an obvious ‘mist’, and coupled with hazardous materials being used, construction dust has the possibility to be very nasty indeed.
What we’ve seen being overlooked, particularly in food manufacturing, that this might not be the first thing that springs to mind when we say ‘dust exposure’. However, flour grain is the second highest cause for occupational asthma. And, it would come as no surprise for you to learn that occupational asthma makes up around 33% of compensation claims for the food industry.
There are many ways that workers may become exposed to dust in the food industry. Employees directly involved in milling, baking, malting, fish processing and coopering are most at risk of dust exposure. Dust particles might include:
- Flour dust
- Dusts from protein agents
- Cleaning and disinfectant products
- Other chemicals and enzymes
As a result, many of these workers go on to contract ‘bakers asthma’. ‘Bakers asthma’ is a term widely used when referring to a collection of symptoms caused by food manufacturing dust inhalation. Long term exposure to high quantities of dust and grains can produce symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
The role of air quality monitoring in manufacturing and construction
It’s no surprise therefore, that if you are working in an industry prone to regular exposure of harmful substances, that they are required to comply with certain health and safety regulations.
Compliance services like air quality monitoring and COSHH, help to maintain a safe working environment. And it’s not just employees’ health and wellbeing that is at stake here! Businesses who regularly fail to comply with legal regulations may find themselves under the spotlight with the HSE.
Fines for non compliance and paying out legal fees to cover medical bills is never good for business.
That’s why here at Safety First Group we take on the role of Occupational Hygienists for you. Our many years of expertise and knowledge means that we are able to apply legal practices and controls that help you with the steps you need to take to achieve compliance. And, whilst we are on site we can consult on measures you may need to take to safeguard the most vulnerable and high risk employees.
Long term health surveillance can go hand in hand with air quality and exposure monitoring. Thankfully, we have a highly-skilled team who can perform risk assessments on your site, and help put your mind at ease when it comes to compliance.
If you have any queries about how we can help manage exposure to dust at work, you can visit our dedicated pages here, or contact us on 0845 002 2133.