Dust buildup is common in manufacturing plants. There are countless reasons for its occurrence:
- Exhaust gases from combustion engines
- Black marking tires leave dust during contact with the floor’s surface
- Small pieces of cardboard boxes and wooden pallets
- Inflow of dust from outdoors
- Output from general manufacturing processes
Small amounts of dust pose little to no threat for anyone. However, the lack of regular maintenance and routine cleaning could be dangerous. As soon as enough dust accumulates, it can become dangerous for the factory’s workers and equipment, becoming a fire hazard as well as a hygiene factor for food processing/packaging.
How dangerous can dust be for your warehouse?
Negative effects on employees
Dust can pose serious health risks for the factory’s workers. Regular exposure to dust particles can irritate to the skin, eyes, respiratory system, ears, and more. Allergies are also common. If the employees spend at least a few hours in such conditions every day, they are at risk of developing serious long-term illnesses. Dust on the floor might cause slipping accidents.
We often do not know the implications of certain dust particles on employees until a few years later. Consider the stonemason: Silicosis is an incurable and often fatal lung disease caused by breathing-in dust containing crystalline silica found in manufactured stone. Apprentices and working stonemasons are increasingly difficult to retain as the illness 'rocks the industry'. Click here to read more about the implications on the stonemason trade.
Negative effects on your equipment
If enough dust manages to build up, it will cause performance issues. Your equipment will work less efficiently, and the maintenance costs might begin to rise. The downtime will lead to further losses. If the floor gets too dirty, it will be harder to move materials across your facility. Internal components will also suffer from dust because it can clog air filters, directly damage machine parts, or cause shorts to electric parts. If dust starts building up on higher levels of your factory, your products will be at constant risk.
Direct risks from dust buildup
One specific, deadly accident could be the combustive dust explosion. After long periods of accumulation, dust can become dangerous. If it comes in contact with an ignition source, it might explode and put the wellbeing of everyone in the facility in danger. Such cases are not rare. In recent years, they are becoming more common. OSHA often improves its standards by requiring good housekeeping habits from factories. If you want to avoid a serious incident or a large fine, regularly cleaning of dust is essential.
Six Dust Control Methods for your Warehouse
1. Regular checkup and cleaning
Consider dust check up and cleaning as part of a normal maintenance routine. While water will do fine for most surfaces, you may need special detergents for the equipment and electronics. Some cleaning products can keep the surface smooth and dust-free for a while. Microfiber cloths can also be useful since they attach themselves to the smallest pieces of dust and leave any surface spotless. Consider a weekly scheduled mechanical clean and oil, possibly at the end of the working week, to keep equipment clean, oiled and ready for the next week of work. This way you can be sure that equipment is not going to be left dirty until a major failure occurs.
2. PREVENTING INFLUX OF DUST
Prevention of dust entering the site from outside is the first obvious task to undertake. If you are able to minimize the amount of dust coming into the warehouse, this is one less headache for you in the long run. Many strategies used to decrease the dust from entering site also can help with maintaining internal warehouse temperatures with temperature control doors, such as airlock zones with the use of products such as Movidor High Speed Doors, Insulated and automated dock doors, warehouse stripdoors and high speed doors etc.
3. ventilation system
Ventilation control is another solution. These systems use extractor fans which create air flows inside the facility. When you turn them on, the fans will start pulling small dust particles towards themselves. There is a collection bag at the other end of the ducts. You can turn off the ventilation system at any time and safely remove and dispose of the dust.
4. Reduce the movement of materials within the facility
The less traffic there is – the better. Friction between tires and the floor’s surface could result in the creation of dust. Speed will accelerate that process and fast-moving objects will stir up more dust.
Analyzing the traffic flow within the warehouse space often helps to reduce the amount of distance which goods need to travel to get from one area to another. For example, the goods which are ordered the most often, to be placed closer to the dispatch area than those which are rarely ordered. This also means that some areas of the site can be segregated, if required, for example the food processing area from the dispatch area where there is a high traffic volume and vehicle fumes which you would not to mix together with food processing or fresh produce.
5. Reducing the exposed surfaces will help
Keeping everything orderly and storing smaller materials inside containers will help in the fight against dust. It is an efficient solution and easier to go about cleaning the top of a container than individual goods stacked on a shelf.
6. Using dust control curtains or walls can save you time, efforts, and money
A neat solution to containing dust and preventing it from spreading would be the use of special curtains, such as warehouse PVC Stripdoors or temporary Flexwall partitioning solution. They will separate different facility compartments and prevent tiny airborne particles from entering or leaving. The curtains will act as a barrier between people and specific processes. The dust will remain in a controlled environment, so you can quickly and easily remove it later. Such curtain walls will help in securing a healthy working environment with high standards.