Why Must Exposure to Inhalable and Respirable Dust Be Assessed and Controlled?

Airborne dusts in the workplace can comprise of many different substances from wood dust to metal particles to toxic substances, like some pharmaceutical powders and other powdered toxic chemicals, to low toxicity dusts like pulverised fuel ash and graphite.

Risk to workers from exposure to inhalable (dust that has the potential to enter the airways) and respirable dust (smaller dust particles that have the potential to enter the lower lung) must be assessed and exposure controlled to an acceptable level. 

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 (As Amended) sets out what employers are required to do in terms of assessing and managing the risk to workers from airborne dusts.

Low toxicity dust includes most poorly soluble, non-fibrous dusts that, at low levels of exposure, have negligible toxic effect on the body.  Even exposure to these lower toxicity dusts must be controlled as long-term occupational exposure to relatively low levels of low toxicity dust can lead to serious health conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Recent studies estimate that there are approximately 4,000 deaths in the UK each year from COPD which has been caused by occupational exposure to airborne contaminants. (HSE: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Statistics/causdis/copd/index.htm)

Find out about respirable crystalline silica (RCS) and weld fume.

How We Can Help

When you engage Viridis to conduct an assessment of worker exposure to hazardous dust our study approach uses a of combination of detailed observation and a range of validated measurement methodologies to:

  • assess worker exposure compared to relevant regulatory and/or in-house exposure limits
  • determine the efficacy of existing control measures
  • assess the suitability of any respiratory protective equipment used
  • assess the level of regulatory compliance.

Our study findings report will also provide recommendations to improve control and reduce risk to workers.