Does Your Shop Need Dust Collection?
That is a fair question. After all, business operations are profitable only if the expenses incurred are less than the sales of the business. And, paying for dust mitigation equipment, dust control systems, or dust collection units is an expense. So, in this post, we are going to consider some topical information that will help you to ponder the question, “does my shop need dust collection?” As we discuss the related information, it is our hope that you will be able to answer that question.
Is Dust Collection Necessary?
Whether dust collection is necessary will depend on a number of things. Some the dependencies will be based on what industry you work in and what the standards are for that industry. Others will be affected by what risks are associated with the industry in which you are working. Finally, it will also depend on what level of safety you wish to offer the professionals in your shop.
In”dust”ries Have Specific Dust Mitigation Requirements
One of the first things to consider when determining if your shop needs a dust collection solution is the industry in which you work. There are many industries that generate dust when the work is being done. Any craft or profession where cutting, grinding, or sanding are performed will generate dust. Since many industries include these tasks, it stands to reason that there would be many industrial dust collectors available to control the amount of dust that remains, not only in the air of the shop, but also on and around the equipment in the workspaces. Professions that generate respirable particulates include the following:
- Stone Fabricator
- Concrete Worker
- Custom Furniture Craftsman
- Aerospace Composite Repair
- Autobody Professional
- Sawmill Workers
- Dental Workers
- Dry Abrasive Blasting (Sadnblasting, etc.)
- Concrete Repair Proessional
- Dry Polishing Pros
- Stone Restoration & Repair
Although the list above is not an exhaustive one, it does give you an idea of just how diverse the group of industries that generate dust are. Since there are so many, you will find that there is a variety of equipment designed for use to collect dust generated by workers in that industry. For example you can find information on collecting dust during furniture construction and other informative articles online for specific industries; including some of the ones above.
So the first thing to think about when considering if your shop needs a dust control system, is whether your shop generates dust. It may seem like an easy thing to know, but keep in mind that not all particulates are visible. For example the EPA says the following on a page about particulate matter:
Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small they can only be detected using an electron microscope.
The above statement means that you don’t necessarily have to see the particles to be affected by them. And depending on the particles in question, there could be a variety of consequences that come from breathing them or simply having them in the air of the work environment.
The other thing to give thought to is what the requirements of your industry are. Some have strict standards and others have recommendations. Knowing which apply to your task and profession will help you know what dangers to guard against.
Dangers of Dust Particles
The dangers of dust particles range from simple human discomfort to explosions of facilities in which the dust accumulates. That is a very wide window of danger and not all industries cause the exact same type or severity of dangers. So, researching the equipment you intend to purchase and having knowledge of your profession and the standards or laws that govern your industry is imperative.
Explosive Dust is Dangerous
Perhaps one of the most attention getting risks that come from dust accumulation in an industrial shop or plant is the risk of explosion. This risk is not one that comes with every industry. But there are some specific industries where combustible dust affects how dust is collected or controlled and what equipment can or should be used for the purpose. Since this post is not focusing on these industries, we will forego delving into that subject. However, you can see a list of substances that are combustible on the website of OSHA here. For the purpose of our discussion though, it is enough to know that some dust (including some may seem harmless) can contribute to explosions.
Potential Health Hazards
Another danger associated with dust particles in a number of professions is the health risks that can come from exposure to specific kinds of dust. For example, we have written about respirable silica and Silicosis here on our site. However there are a wide range of respiratory issues that can result depending on what kind of dust a person is exposed to. SOme of these include:
And there are others. The thought here is that the dust that is generated in your work environment can have a tremendous impact on the long term health of the workers. And since it happens from continous exposure, it can be difficult to detect until it is too late.
Even if the kind of dust that is generated from the type of work that you do, it can still bring ill effects to the daily operations of the shop. This can come from the the next risk that we will discuss.
Problems of Discomfort to Workers
It may not seem as though it is as significant as explosive dust, or health hazards, but discomfort that comes from dust inhalation can produce problems for the daily operation of your shop. Sick days, or descreases in performance because a person is just not feeling well can make the profitability of the operation suffer. If the profitability declines enough, it can cause the business to fail.
Of course, dust problems are not the only potential cause of discomfort in the artisans working in your shop. Each industry will have its own. However respirable dust can play a part.
Protecting Workers From Dust Particulates
Now that we have seen some of the dangers associated with dust accumulation, what can we conclude? The answer is, there is not just one reason to look into making use of dust control systems. There is a range of benefits that come from utilizing wet or dry dust collection systems. And by installing a dust collection booth, mobile dust collector, or a down draft table, you are significantly impacting the amount of risk on your shop.
In the end, whether you make use of dust control systems or not will depend on many factors, including some we didn’t even mention here. But if you do implement dust control measures, you can rest assured that you are doing what you an to provide the best quality work environment for all involved.