1660317313381 Industrialdusthazards

Industrial Safety: Dust Never Sleeps

Feb. 21, 2022
Allocate adequate attention to addressing its safety, health and other hazards

Yes dust, not only rust, remains a persistent problem. (No, Neil Young and Crazy Horse didn’t issue such a sequel to their 1979 “Rust Never Sleeps” album, for those of you familiar with it.) Indeed, dust continues to pose an ongoing issue almost everywhere. It’s unsightly but also so much more than that in many situations.

On a personal level, I’m continually grappling with dust accumulating on the many manual typewriters I have collected. These machines have loads of small gears, levers, springs and other parts that act as dust magnets. The build-up isn’t just an aesthetic issue for the typewriters but can make them sluggish to operate or even compromise how well they type. The glass doors on the display cabinets I have do help keep out a lot of dust but certainly don’t provide hermetic sealing. I must dust the machines — more frequently than I now do, chides my wife. I have run through a lot of cotton swabs and pipe cleaners removing dust, often from some fairly inaccessible areas deep within machine mechanisms. Cleaning the typewriters is a chore, but I do get some satisfaction in restoring the machines to more-pristine condition.

In industry, dealing with dust may not give many engineers as much satisfaction. Regardless, most manufacturing plants must contend with dust. Loading, unloading and handling of solids as well as various processing steps can create dust. Appropriate sealing and other containment measures can prevent escape of particles, while using vacuum and other techniques can collect errant particles. Nevertheless, many sites still suffer significant issues with dust. Build-up on surfaces or high ambient levels in the work environment, at best, might indicate inadequate housekeeping or, at worse, major operational failings. This dust can lead to product impurities as well as create health and safety issues. Thus, plants usually must strive for effective dust control.

Reflecting the importance of properly dealing with dust, CP devotes considerable attention to the topic. For instance, this issue’s article “Consider Agitation Agglomeration For Dust Control”  covers an often-overlooked option when handling bulk solids that can offer a variety of benefits. In addition, a number of other recent articles provide important insights related to both safety and environmental issues. These include: “Address Explosion Risks Via Dust Hazards Analysis”; “Take Key Steps Against Combustible Dust Hazards”; “Tackle Combustible Dust Risks”; “Deftly Deal with Dust”; and “Is Your Cooling Tower a Dust Filter.”

CP also has published a number of eHandbooks (free downloadable multi-article pdfs) such as “Diminish Dust Dangers”; “Deftly Deal with Dangerous Dusts”; and “Deter Danger from Dust.”

In addition, we are continuing our series of free online “Combustible Dust Roundtables” in which experts cover best practices and answer audience questions. This year’s first roundtable will take place on May 11th. You can see more details and register here. The second roundtable is slated for November 2nd. Earlier roundtables are available on demand.

So, don’t let your knowledge get dusty! Take advantage of these valuable resources.

MARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. In addition to having an enviable collection of vintage typewriters, he also has pretty good taste in music. Enjoy this Neil Young and Crazy Horse tune: "Hey, Hey, My My" from the aforementioned "Rust Never Sleeps" album. You can email him at [email protected]
About the Author

Mark Rosenzweig | Former Editor-in-Chief

Mark Rosenzweig is Chemical Processing's former editor-in-chief. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' magazine Chemical Engineering Progress. Before that, he held a variety of roles, including European editor and managing editor, at Chemical Engineering. He has received a prestigious Neal award from American Business Media. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union. His collection of typewriters now exceeds 100, and he has driven a 1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk for more than 40 years.

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