The Importance of Dust Monitoring

When a hazard has the potential to exceed exposure limits or the risk is variable, monitoring a workers’ health is a legal requirement. Dust monitoring is important in industries such as quarries, sawmills, foundries, cement-manufacturing plants, construction sites, and more. Businesses are obliged to manage and monitor programs that ensure exposure to dust is kept within an acceptable level, and statutory limits are not exceeded. Many respiratory diseases often do not show serious ill effects for years. Knowing this, employee’s exposure to dust must be minimised. Monitoring of personnel on a regular basis helps employers to identify any workers who may be at risk of developing a respiratory disease as a result of his or her occupation.

All dust is harmful to some degree, so dust monitoring is imperative in the workplace. It is not necessary that the individual is at risk for lung disease. There is always some adverse effect contributable to dust. This is particularly true for people with asthma or people who suffer from an allergy. Harmful dust includes asbestos, sand, carborundum, and even sugar cane fibres. Dust particles range in size from one to 100 microns. The most harmful dust is less than 5 microns in size. Dust of this size is not even visible, but that does not mean it does not pose a danger.

SESA, Safety & Environmental Services Australia, works closely with employers. Their objective is to develop a dust control strategy for you, as well as offer methods of sampling and analysis. The best dust control strategies include the development of a dust control program, a method to analyse airborne dust, the implementation of a corrective action program, and the maintenance of personnel exposure records. Dust is hard to control. Sources include wind action, road transport, chutes, conveyors, and blasting. To remain effective, dust monitoring programs must be under constant review and what is deemed to be appropriate changes, must be made.