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The Dangers of Dust Exposure at Work

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017

Though office workers can still be at risk of dust exposure, it can be said that those who work in agriculture, carpentry, construction, manufacturing, and mining are more vulnerable to dust because of the nature of their work and the materials they work with.

But why is dust exposure so dangerous? Because it can have various negative effects on the body. These effects can be divided into two – short-term and long-term effects. Though long-term effects are generally worse, either category can be detrimental to its sufferer’s health.

Short-term Effects

Dust particles are particularly dangerous for the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.

  • Eyes – Eyes can capture particles and may be irritated. This can be a minor inconvenience, but the temporary compromised vision during irritation should not be overlooked, because it can lead to workplace accidents.
  • Skin – Like the eyes, the skin may be vulnerable to irritation. This is particularly true if the particles involved are chemically-induced, because they may have an increased chance of causing itching, reddening, and even scaling.
  • Respiratory System – The dust may be small enough to be inhaled, creating breathing problems due to dust buildup in the airways. If the victim already has a respiratory problem, such as asthma, he or she may also experience an episode.

Long-term Effects

These complications develop after prolonged dust exposure, often amounting in decades. There are also instances where symptoms don’t arise immediately, making them more dangerous. Like the short-term effects, long-term effects often involve the skin and respiratory system.

  • Skin – Chemicals found in some particles may cause skin cancer. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is often a severe case.
  • Respiratory System – There are numerous complications that can be sustained from dust exposure, such as asthma, pneumonia, and lung cancer.

Prevention

An employer is legally and morally obligated to ensure that the risk of the workplace is minimized, even if the workplace can be considered inherently dangerous. There are numerous ways to achieve this. For example, RoboVent has ventilation systems that may reduce the risk of dust exposure.

But prevention is not always about complicated engineering solutions. Sometimes, it is merely about simple safety procedures, such as giving protective gears to employees so they don’t get direct exposure or maintaining the facility so it doesn’t experience dust buildup.

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