As part of our duty to guarantee the air quality of premises around the UK, recently we were called to carry out an assessment of occupational exposure to hazardous substances in accordance with the HSE document “Control of Substances Hazardous to Health” 2002. The overall objectives of our assessment were to measure the atmospheric concentration of respirable and inhalable dust within the working environment, evaluate the exposure of operatives to metalworking fluids and acrylates, and assess the levels of biological contamination in the sum fluid vessels. In addition, we would be responsible for recommending a plan to improve indoor air quality procedures in the business.
After conducting our investigation, we found that the daily personal exposure levels in relation to respirable dust, inhalable dust, ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate and metal working fluids were likely to be below the assigned workplace exposure limits. As a consequence, the employees working within the Sieve Cleaning area are likely to be subjected to significant amounts of inhalable dust The building itself was located near a large town and specialized in the production of grain mills and grains sorting machinery. The building was divided into offices and welfare facilities, a production area and an automated blasting section.
Fume and Dust sample analysis
In order to assess the indoor air quality, we needed to conduct an indoor air quality test. To do this, we collected Airborne particulates and vapors with Cassella and Gillian Personal samples. In addition, samples for inhalable and respirable dust were collected using IOM sampling head fitted with QMA filters and a respirable foam plug.
Preventing Indoor Air Quality Deterioration
The first part of our indoor air quality plan was to facilitate a thorough examination and test of the local exhaust ventilation systems every 14 months. Prior to our investigations, there were no formal checks made on the local exhaust ventilation, so it was important to schedule regular checkups. Next, we recommended that employees be protected through the use of respiratory equipment. Disposable respirators would do much to prevent employees from suffering any adverse effects on account of poor air quality. Respiratory protective equipment was particularly advised during blasting and during cleaning of industrial machinery. The use of such protection would allay concerns about inhaling organic dust and metal particulates.
Finally, we recommended that employees exposed to contaminants be educated on hazardous substances in line with COSHH regulation 12. Workers would need to be trained at least once a year on a regular basis.
Exposure monitoring conclusions
Our air monitoring results suggested that employees working in the Colour sorting area were unlikely to be exposed to levels of inhalable dust above the workplace exposure limits. In addition, our air monitoring results suggested that employees working in the Sieve Recovery area are unlikely to be exposed to levels of Ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate above the workplace exposure limits. Air monitoring results suggest that the employee working in the Sieve Cleaning were likely to be exposed to significant levels of inhalable dust above the workplace exposure limits. In future, workers would be better protected with respiratory protective equipment of at least FFP2 standard when cleaning the sieves. In addition, we recommended that all employees be trained on health risks from hazardous substances in the workplace.