Many compound feed manufacturers face the same problem: dust
In recent years, Schouten Advies has developed a great deal of knowledge and expertise in the field of working conditions. As a health and safety adviser, I visit companies in the animal feed sector on a weekly basis to help think about a safe and healthy workplace. It strikes me that many feed companies are struggling with the same: dust.
Particularly at compound feed companies you can hardly escape it: dust in the working environment. In the animal feed sector, most of the dust is released through broken installation parts and leaks in machines. Pouring raw materials can also create a cloud of dust.
Dust formation involves roughly two risks. On the one hand, exposure to dust can lead to health problems. In addition, a dust cloud can, depending on the material, lead to dust explosions. In many cases, just a spark is enough!
To minimise risks, it is important to clean up dust on a daily basis. In practice, I find that keeping areas dust-free is not always done with the best techniques. Cleaning up dust with compressed air or a broom seems ideal and most dust seems to disappear. The risk is that precipitated dust will end up in the air again. The dust cloud that results can lead to health and explosion risks.
Here’s what you can do against dust
To keep your company dust-free, it is important to take measures in the following order:
- replace a hazardous material with an alternative with a lower explosion risk;
- use closed installations where dust cannot or barely can escape;
- ensure that dust is extracted at the points where it enters the room;
- repair leaks at installations and machines immediately. Accumulated dust can cause a secondary explosion;
- specify in a cleaning schedule which business premises, installations and machines should be cleaned when, by whom and with what means;
- do not use a broom or compressed air, but a vacuum cleaner with a suitable HEPA filter;
- if vacuuming is not possible, use water and a cleaning cloth to prevent dust from re-entering the air;
- for pouring raw materials particular, the intake pit must be provided with sufficient extraction;
- provide personal protective equipment such as dust masks;
- finally, it is important to instruct employees on the risks, measures and the specific working method that applies.