3 Ways To Reduce Exposure To Airborne Contaminants

Categories Business Tips

Whether in manufacturing, mining, or construction, it’s important to ensure the exposure of airborne contaminants both for the overall health of your workers, and for the environment is considered at all times.

We are going to talk about three ways that you can reduce exposure to Airborne Contaminants for the safety, and protection of your workers and to meet governmental standards for Airborne Contaminants in Queensland as set out by the environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Environmental Protection Regulations 2008.

What Are Airborne contaminants?

Airborne contaminants can occur in the gaseous form (gases and vapours) or as aerosols, which include airborne dusts, sprays, mists, smokes and fumes.

Airborne dusts are of particular concern because they are associated with classical widespread occupational lung diseases such as the pneumoconiosis, as well as with systemic intoxications such as lead poisoning, especially at higher levels of exposure.

According to the Queensland Government, the sources of airborne contaminants include the following:

  • combustion processes, such as engines, power stations, wood heaters, bushfires and hazard reduction burning
    non-combustion activities, such as earthworks, unpaved roads, bulk material handling and windblown dust.
  • non-combustion activities, such as earthworks, unpaved roads, bulk material handling and windblown dust.

The prevention of airborne contaminants is much more effective and usually cheaper if it is considered at the planning stage of any work process and workplace, rather than as control solutions of already existing hazardous situations.

I will be talking about three different ways that you can improve air monitoring for airborne contaminants.

1. Plan Out Exposure

“Plan Out” the exposure by not using hazardous substances if at all possible.

If the exposure cannot be completely prevented ensure, that you are:

  • Following local Airborne Contaminant standard, in Queensland as set out by the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Environmental Protection Regulations 2008 that’s a Total Suspended Particle (TSP) count of 90.
  • If it is not possible to prevent exposure by any other method, then give out personal protective equipment, including respiratory protective equipment (RPE), to the workers and other persons, as needed who are entering exposed areas;

Reduce Exposure For Workers

PPE is designed to protect your workers ears, nose, eyes, mouth, and respiratory system to reduce the exposure, and protect workers from Airborne Contaminants such as fibres, dust, gas, and vapor.

Selecting The Right PPE

Of course, just like any other PPE process, you must do a risk assessment on the job site before work commences.

Having a detailed understanding of all, or possible Airborne Contaminants will help you identify exactly the type of PPE equipment that is required.

Some items that might be required based on the Airborne Contaminants that your workers, or visitors might be exposed too are the following:

  • boot covers
  • protective gloves
  • disposable coveralls with a hood
  • a respirator
  • eye protection
  • or a face shield, and gloves.

Paying attention to the rating of the PPE is critical, as the rating lets us know what Contaminants we might be protected from.

You also need to provide proper training, and disposal instructions to workers and visitors to the site who are required to wear PPE.

Elimination At The Source

Elimination at the source can involve three things

  • the production process
  • the hazardous substance
  • and the work practices.

Production Process

A production process can be changed by applying a production method which generates less dust.

This is a sensible approach at the design stage of a production process or when production lines are changed due to the introduction of new product lines.

Hazardous Substance

A hazardous substance may be eliminated by changing the process so that the substance is no longer needed, or by using a less hazardous substance as a substitute.

Work Practice

If substitution is not feasible, ways should be sought of reducing dust generation. For example, substances might be used as pellets or in liquid suspension, rather than as powders, or, brought in as pre-formed blocks, rather than being cut in the workplace. Any wet method is likely to cause less dust exposure than a dry one.

Conclusion

There are many different ways to reduce the exposure of Airborne Contaminants on your site, to protect workers, and the environment.

Use this blog post as a guide in thinking about improving exposure to Airborne Contaminants on your site.

References:

http://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/airdust/en/
https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/monitoring/air-pollution/particles
https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/media/personal-protective-equipment-airborne-contaminants

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