TQUK Level 2 Award in Health and Safety in the Workplace (RQF)

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Managing Dust Hazards in the Workplace

Understanding Dust Types

Dust consists of tiny airborne particles that can be inhaled, ranging from larger inhalable dust to smaller respirable dust that can penetrate deeply into the lungs.

Organic dust originates from living materials like grain, flour, wood, and poultry. Inorganic dust includes substances such as metals, cement, asbestos, and coal.

Health Risks Associated with Dust

The most severe health issues linked to dust exposure include lung, throat, and nose cancers, as well as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), encompassing chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

COSHH Regulations on Dust

Under COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations, dust is considered hazardous if its concentration in the air reaches or exceeds 10 mg/m³ of inhalable dust or 4 mg/m³ of respirable dust over an 8-hour period (8-hour TWA).

Employers must take action to mitigate risks if workers are exposed above these levels.

Assessing and Controlling Dust Risks

When assessing dust risks, consider:

  • Task size and duration
  • Enclosure of the work area
  • Frequency of procedures

To control dust risks:

  • Eliminate or substitute hazardous substances
  • Contain dust at the source with proper extraction systems
  • Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ensure its correct use and fit
  • Use safer forms of products (e.g., paste instead of powder)
  • Implement effective ventilation and extraction systems
  • Reduce cutting and preparation by using appropriate tool sizes
  • Limit employee exposure and rotate tasks

Regularly review controls for effectiveness, supervise their use, and maintain equipment properly to ensure ongoing protection against dust hazards.