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12 December 2022

Health Risks from a dusty atmosphere

There are many airborne particles (dust) generated by work shop activities which, when inhaled, can cause respiratory diseases such as occupational asthma and pneumoconiosis of the lungs.  Employees need to take adequate precautions when sanding because these diseases remain for life.

Extraction at source is the best way for employers to protect their workforce and meet health and safety (COSHH) legal requirements.

Inside the workshop there are different types of systems available to extract dust at source.  These range from portable units to centralised systems.

Portable unit/ mobiles may be practical for a small workshop as they can be moved around the workshop where needed.  Portables have a small capacity so need emptying frequently.  Portables machines do not last long.

Portables are impractical for larger areas as a number in one area can cause a noise problem if several are in use at the same time.

Centralised vacuum plants provide extraction for numerous areas and are much more powerful than portables.  The size can vary, depending on the number of workstations needed, with extraction points located at each working area.  The dust plant is located away from the work area, typically in a plant room.

Boom arms are a possibility with some systems but there are disadvantages.

The boom arm needs to be carefully designed as the weight of the head can make the arm swing, causing difficulties when in use.  Boom arms need to be robust and are therefore heavy. The weight needs to be well anchored to a strong point – poorly sited boom arms have been known to bring the wall down!  Boom arms are also expensive.

Minden Systems provide a variety of options from dust extract only heads to energy modules with electrics and compressed air incorporated into each workstation.

All models have an ATEX option available.

Separate dust extraction is required for aluminium particles and steel. Mild steel reacts with aluminium. If it finds its way onto a panel, corrosion can occur.  In addition to providing a cleaner, safer working environment dust extraction can help reduce costly reworks caused by contaminants.

A build-up of aluminium dust can explode if ignited by static or other sparks.  Aluminium dust must be collected away from all such sources.  All new Minden dust plants are now built to comply with ATEX requirements at a later date if required.

Regular Servicing essential

Presently, it is a legal requirement to test extraction units at least once every 14 months.  In practice, however, it is not uncommon to undertake more frequent testing to make sure the vacuum is functioning at an adequate level. As equipment gets older, it can easily get clogged up, decreasing in efficiency and eventually causing the motor to fail.  To protect your workforce equipment, regular servicing not only makes sense but also avoids the risk of being fined.