The challenge at Holland Packing
Holland Packing develops, produces and supplies boxes, crates, wood and cardboard packaging in both standard designs and customised versions designed to meet customers’ preferences and requirements. Machining and processing of wood products produces wood dust that can quickly spread through the air and find its way into the nose, throat and airways, with potentially serious health effects. Wood contains substances that can irritate the skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Holland Packaging had long suffered from dust-related problems, particularly from lurking dust not extracted by the source extraction systems on the machinery.
How they ended the large amount of wood dust in the air
The packaging operations are often carried out in risky environments, in workplaces and factories, close to machines and installations, and they need to pay close attention to the health and safety of the employees. That includes improving the quality of the air indoors. The most common complaint from the employees was of dust irritating the nose. The dust measurements carried out by Dick Stoorvogel from Euromate underlined the need for effective air cleaning. Euromate installed four HFE/SFM-25 industrial air cleaners at Holland Packaging and great satisfaction at the customer was the result: “We’re really happy with how the air cleaners work. Lurking dust has almost disappeared and our employees really notice the difference. They’re much less bothered by dust!” (quote Mr. Thijs van der Made at Holland Packing).
What does the Dutch law say about wood dust?
[source: Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment| Arboportaal]
For the risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E), the employer must assess the exposure to wood dust. For hardwood dust, an employer must follow the provisions applicable to carcinogenic and mutagenic substances. For hardwood dust in the workplace, the permissible exposure limit in the air based on an 8-hour time-weighted average is 2 mg/m3. The target value is 0.2 mg/m3, and this means that the employer must indeed try to achieve this lower value. When taking measures to reduce exposure to wood dust, an employer is obliged to follow the occupational hygiene strategy. One of the recommended measures is not to sweep but rather to extract wood dust and fine dust. First and foremost, this results in improved indoor air quality, saves on cleaning costs and reduces the risk of explosion. If there is no dust in the room, there can be no explosion. Just half a millimetre of wood dust is enough to create a risk of explosion.
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