Textiles: The Risks to Employee Health
As we discussed last week in our introduction to this weeks focus on Textiles and Laundries – there are many risks associated with working within these environments; not least to the health of the employees in these facilities.
For employees working in these Industries – unhygienic work environments can lead to employees experiencing health problems due to regularly breathing in the various dusts, fibres or fumes found in the atmosphere.
These materials can include anything from chlorine and ammonia to asbestos and textile process dust – without proper ventilation onsite – these can mean serious health issues fast.
What are the risks?
Textile workers are known to be at risk of developing occupational asthma during their careers and in more extreme cases have been known to develop further respiratory irritation from the dust and other materials onsite.
In the most extreme cases – workers can even become seriously ill; including more serious complaints such as Byssinosis. This is an illness usually associated with prolonged exposure and breathing in of cotton dust – a condition that can be both debilitating and long lasting.
How to control the Risks…
This (no pun intended) laundry lists of risks to employee health can be managed and substantially reduced when workers exposure to these dusts and airborne chemicals are properly controlled. Where powder materials are being handled, care should be taken to ensure that people are not exposed to excessive levels of dust and appropriate respiratory protection should be provided and worn. Up-to-date COSHH assessments, control to within Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) and simple health surveillance are priorities where dust is a hazard.
For the wool industries typically dusty operations include opening, blending, carding, and backwinding and so any areas featuring these specialist processes should be focus of particular attention to ensure risk is mitigated.
For workers operating with cotton, then appropriate control measures will be required for most early processes which will include working with raw material handling, as well opening, carding, drawing, combing, beaming, ring spinning, and high speed winding.
Legislation in place around the world states that cleaning should be done using a vacuum cleaner, not a broom or brush or compressed air which will only disperse the material over a wider area than actually remove the material from the environment
As you can see – with the health of employees on the line – removing these hazardous materials from the environment is must for building owners and facilities managers. next time on the blog post, we are going to examine what makes our ATEX cleaning system, the ideal choice for cleaning in these highly specialised environments.
In the meantime – to discuss your requirements with us in detail, please be sure to contact us today.