The dust hazard analysis (DHA) requirements of NFPA 652 push manufacturers to assess the dust control situation at their facilities. By conducting a DHA, facility managers…

According to Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, every employee is entitled to a safe workplace, free of known hazards. However, there has been no federal standard on heat stress that prescribed how companies were required to protect employees from a high-temperature work environment.

Until now.

On September 20, 2021, OSHA announced it would be exploring new standards to protect workers from heat hazards, both indoors and out.

Heat Stress Standard SonicAireIn their release, OSHA stated that “43 workers died from heat illness in 2019, and at least 2,410 others suffered serious injuries and illnesses.” The Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, estimates “the economic loss from heat to be at least $100 billion annually – a number that could double by 2030 and quintuple by 2050 under a higher emissions scenario.”

With these figures in mind, OSHA is hosting a virtual Stakeholder Meeting on OSHA Initiatives to Protect Workers from Heat-Related Hazards on May 3, 2022.

What We Know Right Now

If your company has kept up on training and OSHA regulations, you know that federal heat stress standards aren’t clearly defined. Rather than explicit regulations regarding heat stress, more generic “guidelines” have been somewhat open to interpretation. As Industrial Hygiene in the Workplace noted in their April newsletter, “employers have a duty to protect workers from recognized serious hazards in the workplace, including heat-related hazards.” However, without a clear standard, companies can currently choose what that duty requires of them.

Additionally, OSHA’s regional divisions have developed standards for those residing in areas with higher temperatures, but adopting a national standard has been overlooked until now. With the alarming rate of heat-related injuries nationwide, OSHA is taking a closer look at measures to address this issue.

The Real Cost of Manual Dust Cleaning

It isn’t until you sit down and start adding up all of the costs the problem becomes apparent.

What To Expect in OSHA’s New Heat Standards?

The standards will change, and regulations will very likely become more difficult for employers to manage. Although we can’t predict the outcome with certainty, we can take a page from OSHA’s regional directives for higher temperature regions and expect similar policies to emerge.
The OSHA Regional Emphasis Program for Heat Illnesses for Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas requires daily analysis of the Heat Index and employers to take additional measures on days forecasted above 80°F. More training, additional first aid kits, drinking water, acclimation accommodations, and provisions for immediate care are all detailed within the program. It’s safe to assume that this will be used as a baseline for the federal standard, as well.

Sugar Mill, Class II EnvironmentExperts are also weighing in on their expectations for this new standard. According to Courtney Malveaux, an employment attorney at the law firm Jackson Lewis in Richmond, VA, “There’s going to be more emphasis on indoor work, and heat standards are going to be a complex calculus—not just temperature.” OSHA did announce that in developing the standard, they plan to “gather diverse perspectives and expertise on topics, such as heat-stress thresholds, heat-acclimatization planning, and exposure monitoring.”

Malveaux goes on to say, “Almost all of them [heat-related deaths] are preventable. We understand how bodies heat up. And we understand the interventions. People don’t need to die in the heat. These are unnecessary deaths.”

Outside

There’s not much you can do about the outdoor temperatures. However, these new regulations will require you to change the way outdoor work gets done.

  • For outdoor/indoor combination environments, you can expect to:
    • Allow more time for acclimation to hotter environments (the CDC currently recommends that employees gradually increase heat exposure over a 7-14 day window).
    • Provide cooler environments indoors by offering air-conditioned areas as a reprieve.
  • For exclusively outdoor working environments, you may be required to:
    • Hire additional workers to compensate for additional break times.
    • Provide relief from the heat in the form of shelter, shade, water, and ventilation.

Inside

  • For traditional factory environments, you may be expected to:
    • Purchase additional equipment to decrease your facility’s ambient temperature.
    • Provide free, easily accessible water for employees to maintain hydration
    • Offer more frequent breaks to allow employees to cool off.
  • For Class II Environments, (and more on those below) there will likely be more strict regulations:
    • Expect factories with these environments to be hit harder than factories without.
    • All the traditional regulations and then some.
    • Mandated maximum working hours (overtime limitations).

Heat Standards in Class II Environments

According to NFPA 70, a Class II Environment is defined as a location where:

1) Ignitable concentrations of hazards exist under normal operating conditions and/or where the hazard is caused by frequent maintenance or repair work or frequent equipment failure; or

2) Ignitable concentrations of hazards exist under abnormal operating conditions.

If your facility is a Class II environment, (one in which combustible dust is an everyday battle, e.g., paper, feed, and corn mills, metal powder manufacturers, or coal plants), preventing or cleaning combustible dust buildup should already be part of your maintenance plan. However, you can expect much stricter enforcement on your implementation of their preventative heat measures as well.

This is not only because dust build-up creates a greater risk for combustion, but also because cleaning the rafters manually will put workers in one of the hottest places in your facility: overhead spaces. When your dust maintenance plan requires workers to enter these areas, they’re in more danger due to heat stress and lower air quality.

This is where SonicAire can help your employee’s safety and allow you to maintain constant compliance with OSHA’s regulations. Our dust control fans will keep your employees out of the rafters in extreme temperatures while also preventing the combustion risk that comes when you combine the fugitive dust with potential ignition sources.

Dust buildup doesn’t have to be an expected problem, even for Class II environments. With a SonicAire fan system, designed especially for your facility, you’ve prevented the problem from ever occurring and are averting the risk before OSHA cracks down on a federal heat standard.

What This Means for Your Company

As you well know, OSHA’s regulations nearly always have consequences for your facility’s operations. These regulation updates will undoubtedly impact all manufacturing companies to some degree. If you’re already in a region that enforces a heat standard, you may not see as dramatic of an impact, but federal regulations and enforcement can be different from regional.

Of course, you’ll have time to comply. OSHA doesn’t expect or require overnight changes to procedure and/or equipment. You can expect similar timeframes to other OSHA Standards Development. They will typically allow 30-60 days to comply with new rules and regulations.

Making hydration a priorityIt’s possible you may see an increase in OSHA inspections after that timeframe, though. As you likely know, OSHA requires no warning before they show up, and the reasoning behind the inspection can be anything from worker complaints to workplace injury. Even targeted inspections for increased heat in the area may put your facility on OSHA’s inspection radar.

Your facility will need to make every effort to show OSHA that you’re complying with these regulations. Inspectors will identify areas of concern for your operations. This will include direct sunlight, hot equipment, furnaces, boilers, ovens, etc.

You’ll also be required to maintain the preventative equipment and tools needed to minimize heat’s effect on your employees.

These changes may be genuinely detrimental to your company’s bottom line. But, being aware of them sooner rather than later may save you headaches in the long run.

Getting Ahead of New OSHA Heat Standards

The time to act isn’t when you’re on the clock. Don’t wait until the inspection occurs to start your heat standard compliance. Your company should be the trendsetter, the standard by which other companies are compared.

When your facility has a problem with fugitive dust, sending your staff into high-temperature environments creates additional dangers. You may already be taking the precautions that this initiative will regulate, but if not, you’ll want to get ahead of the curve.

If you’re interested in creating a work environment in which your employees are safe and you’re protected from the dangers of combustible dust, contact us to learn more about our Dust Control Solutions and how they’ve helped thousands of businesses around the world.

SonicAire Fans – A Cost-Effective Alternative

We’re not going to lie to you. Installing a SonicAire Dust Control Fan System requires an investment. There are very few facilities that can get by with a couple of fans. But the long-term benefits speak for themselves.

SonicAire fans either run for specified periods during the day or all day, depending upon your operations and dust production level. However, they use two different tactics to prevent combustible dust buildup in overhead areas. 

First, they clean off higher surfaces with continual airflow. This prevents buildup and eliminates the cleaning of these areas. Second, a properly engineered system creates an Air Barrier to prevent warm air currents from bringing dust up into overhead spaces.

Let’s look at how they impact the costs we’ve highlighted above.

Measuring the Difference

Each facility is different. In manufacturing and processing, operations produce varying levels and types of fugitive dust. But each facility is likely overspending on manual cleaning or simply not cleaning enough.

When you consider the labor, equipment, and lost productivity that goes into manual cleaning practices and then add in the insurance costs, potential fines, and employee dissatisfaction. Is manually cleaning your facility really saving you money?

We’re confident our combustible dust control systems will save your facility money even with the initial investment to purchase and install. But, if you’re not 100% sold, we get it. That’s why we offer free dust management plans with ROI Analysis. These engineered plans recommend the amount and placing of fans to ensure maximum protection from dust buildup.

Click here to request your Free Dust Management Plan. 

Or contact us to discuss dust control solutions for your facility.

The dust hazard analysis (DHA) requirements of NFPA 652 push manufacturers to assess the dust control situation at their facilities. By conducting a DHA, facility managers…

https://unsplash.com/photos/HpPmiduLDC0

Fugitive dust is serious business for facilities across the U.S. and worldwide. The dangers of combustible dust are obvious. Companies do their absolute best to comply with NFPA 652 and other standards in most cases.

But, can we all agree that keeping hard-to-reach areas clean is a pain?

There’s nothing like spending all day cleaning – employees in scissor lifts or ladders, blowing down dust, and sweeping it up – only to watch it build up again in a matter of weeks.

When it comes to any problem, not just fugitive dust, we first choose the most obvious solution. So, it’s no wonder that most organizations manually clean combustible dust. Traditionally, labor has been relatively inexpensive, especially when you’re already paying them. And until regulations tightened, consistently eliminating dust buildup was something that could wait just a little bit longer.

This all added up to a reasonable expense to keep things clean and stay within proper limits. 

However, as with most problems, the first solution isn’t necessarily the best. And manual cleaning is not the cheapest or most effective way to maintain compliance. 

The Real Cost of Manual Dust Cleaning

It isn’t until you sit down and start adding up all of the costs the problem becomes apparent.

The Real Cost of Manual Dust Cleaning

It isn’t until you sit down and start adding up all of the costs the problem becomes apparent.

1 – Labor Costs

Even before the Great Resignation, employee costs have been on the rise. Insurance, benefits, and rising wages have made managing a growing workforce costly for companies. These costs are manageable as long as they continue focusing on revenue-generating activities. Unfortunately, when you’re paying your staff to clean, it’s not making your company any additional money. It’s increasing your overhead. 

Depending upon how often you need to clean, these costs add up quickly, costing companies anywhere from thousands of dollars per month to tens of thousands. If you’re not tracking the non-revenue-generating labor cost in your business, you could be wasting more money than you realize.

2 – Equipment

If you clean frequently enough, you may have the necessary equipment. Smaller facilities may be able to get away with ladders and vacuums. Larger facilities require more expensive solutions.

  • Scissor lifts to get into overhead spaces.
  • Complex vacuums with enough hose to reach those spaces.
  • Brooms/blowers to get dust down to the floor where staff can sweet or vacuum it up

It adds up quickly.

Your company may only use this equipment for cleaning purposes. If so, your team is maintaining and storing sparingly used equipment that isn’t preventing the problem.

Scissor lifts alone can cost between $5,000-$50,000 depending upon the size needed for your ceiling height. If you’re not cleaning frequently, renting one may be an option. Although it could still cost you a couple of hundred dollars each time, and it doesn’t include the cost of vacuums, blowers, and other equipment.

Although frowned upon, many facilities use compressed air for blowing down combustible dust. While this may seem like a low or no-cost option since your facility probably already has an air compressor on site, the electricity used to compress the air is not free. In fact, that air can cost 30 cents or more per 1000 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM). A typical blowdown process could easily use millions of cubic feet of compressed air. This is just one of many hidden costs that are often overlooked.

3 – Lost Productivity

You may be thinking to yourself, “I can deal with paying my employees to work an extra day each month and to rent some equipment.” Unfortunately, the most considerable cost for many facilities is likely lost productivity. Manufacturing and Processing operations often run 24/7 nowadays to keep up with demand. Employees work across multiple shifts to minimize downtime. 

Every hour of downtime minimizes your bottom line.

For some businesses, this could be thousands of dollars per hour. But data suggests it’s far worse than this. A study in 2021 of the world’s largest manufacturers shows that plants lost as much as a full day of production every month due to a number of factors. 

According to Alexander Hill, Chief Global Strategist at Senseye commented, “Unplanned downtime is the curse of the industrial sector. When expensive production lines and machinery fall silent, organizations stop earning, and those investments start costing rather than making money. The costs can spiral to well over $100,000 per hour for large manufacturers in almost all industrial sectors.”

Even if you aren’t one of the largest processing facilities in the world, chances are it’s costing you thousands of dollars per hour every time you shut down for cleaning. Add up those costs over the year, and the impact on the bottom line is clear.

4 – Insurance Related Costs

In a case study completed on an AZEK Company blending operation, Plant Engineer, Tom Matechik, discussed insurance’s role in manual cleanings. After an insurance inspector expressed concern over dust buildup, they had a choice. Let their insurance costs go up or increase cleaning efforts to ensure dust buildup was acceptable during an assessment. Instead of managing cleanings with internal staff, they hired a third-party cleaning company to clean. This was costly but possibly less expensive than an increase on their premiums.

AZEK isn’t alone in these concerns. Insurance costs keep going up for everyone, and inspectors aren’t looking for reasons to reduce your rates. Failure to clean often enough or thoroughly enough could bump up your premium. Conversely, scheduling more manual cleanings means increased operational costs.

5 – OSHA Fines

Manual cleanings are effective when completed often and comprehensively in your facility. But you never know when an OSHA inspector may drop by. You could be one week away from your next scheduled cleaning when they stop by. 

Often, they’ll schedule a follow-up visit so long as there haven’t been previous citations. But these repeat visits still require cleaning and another trip around the facility.

Repeat violations could result in expensive fines and required cleanings. For example, take Watson Wood Works [link to case study on site]. They had fallen behind on cleanings when an inspector popped by. The result? A violation that would have required them to shut down for cleanings twice per year or cost them a severe fine. Jesse Watson, the owner, estimates it would have cost them tens of thousands of dollars in cleaning costs and lost productivity.

Luckily, they found an alternative solution. But more on that later.

6 – Workplace Safety and Satisfaction

The Great Resignation has made evident the flexibility the modern workforce has. If current working conditions aren’t ideal, there’s always another option. Even if you clean frequently enough and have collectors on your machinery, some plants still swim in floating particulate. Then, when it comes to cleaning, who loves taking the time to jump in a scissor lift and vacuum out overhead spaces?

Given the opportunities in the marketplace, if your employees don’t feel safe in their position. Or, even if it’s just a matter of not coming out of the plant covered in dust, there’s probably somewhere else they can work.

The enormous cost of turnover should give manufacturers and processors reason to pause and consider their environment. Otherwise, it could start to impact product quality and productivity as a whole, costing you more money in the long run.

SonicAire Fans – A Cost-Effective Alternative

We’re not going to lie to you. Installing a SonicAire Dust Control Fan System requires an investment. There are very few facilities that can get by with a couple of fans. But the long-term benefits speak for themselves.

SonicAire fans either run for specified periods during the day or all day, depending upon your operations and dust production level. However, they use two different tactics to prevent combustible dust buildup in overhead areas. 

First, they clean off higher surfaces with continual airflow. This prevents buildup and eliminates the cleaning of these areas. Second, a properly engineered system creates an Air Barrier to prevent warm air currents from bringing dust up into overhead spaces.

Let’s look at how they impact the costs we’ve highlighted above.

SonicAire Fans – A Cost-Effective Alternative

We’re not going to lie to you. Installing a SonicAire Dust Control Fan System requires an investment. There are very few facilities that can get by with a couple of fans. But the long-term benefits speak for themselves.

SonicAire fans either run for specified periods during the day or all day, depending upon your operations and dust production level. However, they use two different tactics to prevent combustible dust buildup in overhead areas. 

First, they clean off higher surfaces with continual airflow. This prevents buildup and eliminates the cleaning of these areas. Second, a properly engineered system creates an Air Barrier to prevent warm air currents from bringing dust up into overhead spaces.

Let’s look at how they impact the costs we’ve highlighted above.

1 – Minimal Labor Required. 

Because overhead spaces are the most expensive and time-intensive to clean, SonicAire fans eliminate the bulk of the work required to clean dust. Fugitive dust settles on the floor and can easily be swept up or vacuumed without impacting operations.

All of those manual cleanings are gone, and so is the required labor. At most, you’ll need to do a periodic spot check for any areas that have some dust buildup.

2 – Rent/Maintain Less Equipment

If you don’t already have a scissor lift, you shouldn’t need one now unless it’s to change out a lightbulb. You should be able to rent one for those purposes—no need for complicated vacuums and blowers. 

Since the dust ends up on the floor, a broom, autovac, or floor cleaner can take care of the dust.

3 – Maintain Productivity

The highest cost of all, lost productivity, becomes a non-issue. With those cleanings removed from the schedule, there’s no need for long periods of downtime. Now you’ll have to blame it on something else, like maintenance on processing equipment.

Imagine getting days of productivity back each year. Picture your staff working on things that generate revenue for your company. And don’t forget, you won’t have to schedule or manage those annoying cleanings anymore either—more time for you to focus on what’s critical to your business.

4 – Avoid Insurance Premium Increases Caused By Fugitive Dust

Remember AZEK, the company that scheduled cleaning crews before each insurance appraisal? They avoided increases to their premiums thanks to installing SonicAire fans.

Now, they don’t worry about visits from their insurer. They know their fans are proactively protecting them from fugitive dust problems.

5 – Avoid Citations and Fines Related to Dust Buildup in Overhead Spaces

The most recent NFPA 652 standard lists fans for continuous dust control (e.g., SonicAire) as an approved method  for preventing dust buildup. 

Watson Wood Works avoided additional fines and scrutiny because they chose an approved product to mitigate dust buildup.

Helping businesses like Watson Wood Works stay compliant and stay productive is  why we rolled out the SonicAire Compliance Guarantee.

As long as SonicAire fans are correctly installed and maintained according to our engineers’ layout/engineering recommendations, they will keep your overhead spaces in compliance with the applicable NFPA dust requirements.  And if they don’t, we’ll provide a full refund on the cost of fans or reimburse the cost of any imposed fine, whichever is less.

*More Details at https://www.sonicaire.com/compliance-guarantee/

6 – Keep Employees Happy

You won’t realize just how dusty your facility is until it isn’t. 

Before installing SonicAire fans at The AZEK Company’s Corey Street Plant, visitors could see rings of dust floating around lights in the blending tower. Now, you can clearly see the lights, and there’s noticeably less dust floating in the facility.

In a recent White Paper published on this very subject, a third-party testing firm measured the density of dust particulate with and without SonicAire Fans in two AZEK facilities. At the Corey Street Plant, where they installed SonicAire fans, levelized particulate loads were around 2mg/m3. These levels were 1/3 to 1/4 the amounts at the Keyser Plant, where fans weren’t operating yet. Even more disturbing, the Keyser Plant saw microbursts of dust whenever the blending tower was operational, above 40mg/m3 at times,

See the full white paper here.

Preventative measures like SonicAire not only create a better work environment. They create a safer one as well, potentially reducing employee turnover and health issues over time.

Measuring the Difference

Each facility is different. In manufacturing and processing, operations produce varying levels and types of fugitive dust. But each facility is likely overspending on manual cleaning or simply not cleaning enough.

When you consider the labor, equipment, and lost productivity that goes into manual cleaning practices and then add in the insurance costs, potential fines, and employee dissatisfaction. Is manually cleaning your facility really saving you money?

We’re confident our combustible dust control systems will save your facility money even with the initial investment to purchase and install. But, if you’re not 100% sold, we get it. That’s why we offer free dust management plans with ROI Analysis. These engineered plans recommend the amount and placing of fans to ensure maximum protection from dust buildup.

Click here to request your Free Dust Management Plan. 

Or contact us to discuss dust control solutions for your facility.

Measuring the Difference

Each facility is different. In manufacturing and processing, operations produce varying levels and types of fugitive dust. But each facility is likely overspending on manual cleaning or simply not cleaning enough.

When you consider the labor, equipment, and lost productivity that goes into manual cleaning practices and then add in the insurance costs, potential fines, and employee dissatisfaction. Is manually cleaning your facility really saving you money?

We’re confident our combustible dust control systems will save your facility money even with the initial investment to purchase and install. But, if you’re not 100% sold, we get it. That’s why we offer free dust management plans with ROI Analysis. These engineered plans recommend the amount and placing of fans to ensure maximum protection from dust buildup.

Click here to request your Free Dust Management Plan. 

Or contact us to discuss dust control solutions for your facility.

Real Cost of Fugitive Dust Cover

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The Real Cost of Fugitive Dust in Hard-to-Reach Spaces

What You Can’t See Can Hurt You

To help protect your workplace, we’ve compiled the following resource, The Real Cost of Fugitive Dust in Hard-to-Reach Spaces: What You Can’t See Can Hurt You. In it, we identify seven ways fugitive dust is likely impacting your facility and its profitability.

These costs go beyond housekeeping and explain why you should be preventing dust buildup to protect the bottom line, not just to stay in compliance.