Dust and Debris Hazards in the Workplace
There are a number of ways that dust and debris affect employees and their workspace. Of course, these hazards can vary, depending on the industry the workspace is involved with. Nonetheless, it is important to keep a workplace tidy to keep employees healthy and business thriving.
Here are 6 ways that dust and debris could pose a risk to your employees and business:
1. Dust as a respiratory hazard
Airborne dust in the workplace can cause or worsen severe respiratory problems. These health issues can range from pneumonia to a more severe problem like lung cancer. Silica dust poses the biggest health risk, but even something as simple as wood dust can cause significant damage to the lungs and airways.
2. Dust as a contamination hazard
In some cases, settled dust on work surfaces can also cause problems with a company’s products. Goods can be damaged or contaminated, making them unable to sell and an overall loss for a company. This is a particular hazard in the food industry and has led to several famous recalls.
3. Dust as a fire hazard
Dust in the workplace can also be a fire hazard, or even cause explosions in some cases. Certain types of dust—like paint particles, iron, and epoxy—are considered combustible dust. According to OSHA, these particles are one of the five conditions of the ‘explosion pentagon.’ Combustible dust incidents in the workplace have caused over 100 deaths and more than 700 injuries in the last three decades.
Taking defensive measures can help a company avoid these problems with dust in the workplace and prevent high costs to a company and its employees. Maintaining a work space clear of dust will preserve the health of employees and allow a business to thrive.
4. Debris as a fall hazard
Falls account for the majority of workplace injuries. It is important to maintain clear traffic ways, including hallways and walkways. Ensure that boxes or storage bins are kept out of the way. Trash should be thrown away in proper receptacles, and leaks and spills should be cleaned up as they happen. Taking these precautions will help prevent slips and falls, keeping employees safe.
5. Debris as a fire hazard
Blocked or cluttered walkways and exits can pose a fire hazard. If an exit is blocked due to construction or renovation in your workplace, ensure that there is an alternate exit route available with a clear, maintained walkway.
6. Debris as a productivity risk
A clutter free workplace is a productive workplace. Remember to keep desks clear of trash and other clutter to allow less distraction and more productivity. Light cleaning and organizing during a work day will help maintain a clean and effective environment for employees. Communication with employees is also important in order to keep track of obstacles in the workplace.
Dust and debris affect employees and workspaces in a negative way. These problems can be easily avoided, allowing for healthy employees a productive work environment.