Workplace Hazards: Dust

Dust is one of the most overlooked hazards in the workplace, primarily because it is small and its harmful effects do not surface immediately. But it is important to point out that when they do, they are a serious risk to life.

The workers on certain industries may be more vulnerable to dust, such as those from construction, manufacturing, and mining, because of their exposure to different elements. But all kinds of workers, even those who are just sitting in office spaces, are at risk of dust exposure.

Allergic Reactions

These are probably the least dangerous effect of dust exposure, but in its own way, they can still be a risk to employees. Allergic reactions are commonly triggered by dust particles from wood and other materials that are induced with chemicals.

Bacterial Infections

Biological contaminants mostly occur because of the poor maintenance of the workplace. The most common contaminants include molds and spores. Exposure to these may result into a variety of complications, especially in the nasal and respiratory areas.

Cancer

Certain types of particles can cause cancer. One of the most common particle is known as asbestos, a fiber mineral used in construction. Getting exposed to asbestos can result into cancers relating to the protective lining of organs, particularly of the lungs, abdomen, and heart.

Irritations

Particles can also cause irritation to various body parts. Externally, the most vulnerable parts are the eyes and the skin. Internally, they are the nose and throat. Irritation is particularly dangerous when acids and chemicals are involved.

Respiratory Problems

Inhalation is the most dangerous kind of dust exposure, because dust can cause various problems inside the body, particularly in the respiratory system. The dust can buildup in the air pathways or get stuck in the lungs themselves, resulting into complications that may include coughing, difficulty breathing, and more dangerous ones like bronchitis and emphysema.

Prevention

Employers should be responsible enough to minimize dust exposure, even if dust exposure is an inherent part of the job. They can utilize current technologies, such as industrial air filtration systems, to achieve this goal.

They can also do the little things, such as cleaning the premises to avoid buildup and unnecessary exposure and providing safety equipment, such as goggles and protective masks, to employees, especially to those who are constantly in the presence of harmful elements.

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