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effects of dust at work

Effects of dust at work: How air pollution puts occupational health and safety at risk

Dust at your commercial business

The effects of dust pollution at work can put the health of your staff at risk and compromise  the efficiency of your business, damaging customer relations and your reputation. We’ve gathered some of our clean air expertise to help you prevent this issue from harming your business.  

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Five reasons to care about the effects of dust at work

Dust and your health

A dusty factory, warehouse or other workplace can affect your health and that of your colleagues. Extended exposure to dust at work has been linked to pneumonia, asthma and other lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Below are some of the key health risks of dust at work.

  • Skin and eye irritation
    Dust in the workplace can irritate the eyes and skin. Symptoms vary depending on what the dust is made of. In some cases, dust can lead to skin ulcers and dermatitis. Certain types of dust can also cause skin cancer.
  • Asthma and breathing issues
    Sme kinds of dust (including dust generated by products such as grain, flour and wood) can aggravate asthma symptoms. Several studies have demonstrated the link between the dust particles PM10 and PM2.5 and respiratory issues, including asthma, COPD, and pneumonia.
  • Silicosis
    Silicosis is a very serious form of lung disease caused by extended exposure to silica dust. Sand and stone contain silica, which is used to make products such as glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, concrete and artificial stone.
  • Cancer and heart disease
    There is a strong link between exposure to air pollution and life expectancy, according to Harvard School of Public Health’s landmark Six Cities study. People exposed to dust particle air pollution over extended periods have a shorter life expectancy, largely due to increased incidences of cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.
  • Tripping and slipping
    A build-up of dust on the floor of your workplace could become a serious occupational health and safety hazard. High levels of airborne dust could make it difficult to see properly, increasing the chance of an accident. Mix dust with oily deposits, and this could be a slip hazard for people and vehicles too.
  • Fire
    Did you know that dust can be a fire hazard? Dust from metal, plastic and natural materials such as sugar, flour, grain and wood, will all burn under certain conditions. The finer the dust particles, the more easily they can catch fire.
Increased costs

The more dust you have at work, the more money you’ll have to spend on cleaning. And cleaning is not just about aesthetics. Dust can affect sensors on machinery and the efficiency of equipment over time, potentially causing downtime and decreasing productivity. The same applies to heating and cooling systems; if they become clogged up with dust, they’ll lead to more strain on the fan motor and more energy to maintain indoor temperatures.

Customer satisfaction

Customers increasingly buy products straight from the warehouse and are more likely to reject them if they are dirty. The more rejects you receive, the greater the financial cost to your company. Poor customer satisfaction can lead to negative online reviews and impact future sales.

Corporate image

Your brand is important. Potential investors, employees and customers prefer to work with a business that has a good corporate image – as opposed to one that is known for its dirty working environment and products covered in dust.


Companies must comply with government occupational health and safety regulations, and some of these rules pertain directly to reducing the effects of dust in the workplace. For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has strict rules regulating heavy metals, wood dust, and flour dust, among other harmful airborne particles.

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