Dust at the workplace

A high dust load at the workplace has a negative impact on your employees, your inventory and your technical plant.

This can lead to:

  • Output losses
  • Higher absenteeism
  • Maintenance costs
  • Cleaning work
  • Poor production results
  • Image damage

Disease-related absenteeism caused by organic dust

Every year the IKK publishes an analysis of the days lost through illness among skilled workers. 14 % of the annual work absences in Germany are due to respiratory illnesses. This segment also has a 52% long-term illnesses rate, which is particularly high. And this number looks set to rise in the future.

This study only looked at work absences of three days or more, which means that the actual number of days lost through illness is significantly higher.

Poor air quality at the workplace increases the risk for respiratory disease. To prevent this, steps must be taken to provide clean ambient air.

Thresholds for dust at the workplace

  • size and form
  • the material characteristics and
  • particle concentration

Thresholds for dust (without any other material/toxic properties) are defined either for

(A-) alveolar or for the

(E-) inhalable dust fraction.

The technical guideline for hazardous substances (TRGS900) defines specific workplace thresholds (AGW/MAK) for dangerous/toxic substances, as well as thresholds for the above-mentioned A-dust and E-dust.

The current workplace threshold for A-dust is 1.25 mg/m³ and the current workplace threshold for E-dust is 10 mg/m³. Special threshold regulations apply for quartz dust, for amorphous silica and for fibres.

Mandatory in some work environments: Respiratory masks

Extreme dust loads require extreme measures.

Respiratory masks are used in work environments that pose a high risk of harm due to e.g. gases, bacteria and smoke.

Working in these conditions is much more difficult. Air filter systems can improve working conditions here.

High dust levels and their impact on health

According to various studies, higher levels of particulate matter, in particular of PM 2.5 (similar to A-dust), have been proven to lead to cause harm and illness, even if they are below the EU limit values.

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Airways
  • Risk of asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia

"There is no safe concentration threshold for particulate matter in the air.

Particulate matter is always harmful!" (Quote/Federal Environment Agency)