Safety in the industrial and manufacturing workplace is necessary for having a sound, profitable business and complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. As most know, OSHA is the federal agency tasked with overseeing workplace safety, and if you’re not in compliance with their rules and regulations, your business could be hit with financial penalties, and potentially even face jail time. Penalties for violating OSHA manufacturing standards can range from thousands to millions of dollars depending on the circumstances.

With the business cost of having injured employees, fines, and legal trouble if you violate OSHA standards, it’s only natural to desire the safest work environment possible. While having proper rules and safety and equipment training in the workplace is an important part of keeping everyone safe, having the right industrial equipment also goes a long way. OSHA dust regulations cover a wide variety of areas, including rules relating to the use of aluminum and its production of dangerous dust. Currently, there is no single OSHA aluminum dust handling standard, but don’t let that fool you! OSHA has been levying hefty fines for combustible dust hazards, including aluminum, under their General Duty clause. Don’t be complacent – read on to learn more about how to safely handle aluminum dust.

OSHA and Aluminum Dust: An Overview

OSHA has several recommendations relating to the handling and presence of aluminum dust in a workspace. Most of these are derived from the National Fire Protection NFPA 484 standard for the processing of combustible metals.  Loose dust is not allowed to build up on floors or other spaces, and any loose dust that is around must be periodically cleaned by staff using conductive soft brooms and scoops that don’t spark, brushes with bristles made of natural fiber, or a special vacuum cleaning system that meets OSHA’s standards and is designed to handle metal powders that can ignite. Generally, OSHA recommendations call for vacuuming only if the dust can’t be removed by hand brushing, which can be very time-consuming. Therefore, it is in your best interest to control it and avoid having loose dust flying around as much as possible. Compressed air cleaning is also discouraged; it is only permitted if the dust can’t be removed by vacuuming or any other approved means.

Under OSHA’s recommendations, aluminum dust shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate on machines or workspaces. The agency calls for regular cleaning as often as possible to keep fugitive aluminum dust presence at an absolute minimum. The handling of aluminum dust should be done with the utmost care to avoid spilling it or letting it become airborne. Dust should be collected into a safe, grounded container that doesn’t leak.

Machinery that produces dust in any way is required by OSHA to have a hood, enclosure or some sort of capture device with a connection to a dust collection system that has enough suction to convey all of the dust being produced. This dust should not be mixed with other dust types or particles because of the risk of fire or combustible dust explosion.

Having the Right Equipment Makes a Difference

Innovative pieces such as DualDraw’s downdraft tables and welding booths keep employees safe and help keep employers in compliance with OSHA’s combustible dust standards. DualDraw features two patented air-quality technologies that relate to its work table’s downdraft surface and vented back stop, and these unique features help meet many of OSHA’s aluminum dust recommendations.

The DualDraw downdraft table’s back stop and surface both feature hundreds of small perforations to assist in dust collection. A strong vacuum is created as air is drawn through these tiny holes, and this creates an even capture effect across both the work table surface and its back stop. This symmetrical airflow makes for a uniform, protective flow of air across the whole work table surface, keeping aluminum dust out of the air of the table worker and preventing it from becoming airborne.  The entire work surface is non-sparking, helping significantly decrease any chance of a spark being generated from work processes.  This in turn decreases the risk of an explosion from the result of a spark igniting a dangerous dust cloud on the work surface.

With the DualDraw downdraft table, your facility will be well-positioned to accurately follow the OSHA dust regulations and recommendations outlined above. The downdraft table’s vacuum will draw in loose dust, thereby cutting down on fugitive dust in your facility and on your other equipment. Hand-brushing dust is the method preferred by OSHA, but it does take more time than other cleaning methods, so cutting down on the necessary cleanup will help free your employees to do other things instead.

Additionally, the DualDraw downdraft table comes with a non-sparking fan wheel, specific warning stickers, and a specially designed dust tray that encourages daily removal of dust accumulation.  All of these features follow the OSHA recommendations as adopted from NFPA 484.

Keeping up with OSHA combustible dust standards to make your workplace safe, for employees and visitors alike, is a must for your business on a financial, human, and legal level. One costly mistake could result in the end of your business or serious consequences for one or more of your employees. Avoid preventable accidents, illnesses, and trouble with OSHA by investing in the proper dust extraction equipment for your facility today.