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How to Protect Workers when Cleaning Hazardous Dust and Building Material


If you're in the business of cleaning up potentially hazardous dust and other forms of building debris, then you know that keeping your employees safe is a top priority for employers. In many cases, the potential health risks associated with exposure to these materials can be severe or even fatal.

That's why you must take steps to make sure your workers are adequately protected when cleaning up these kinds of materials.

In this blog post, we'll discuss some of the safety measures you should take to protect your people from high-risk exposures, such as asbestos dust and potentially toxic substances.

With the right knowledge and preparation, you can help keep your employees safe while ensuring compliance with workplace safety regulations.

Assess the Risks

Before any work begins, you should assess the risks associated with whatever cleaning job you are undertaking. As an employer, you should familiarize yourself with the types of materials present in the workplace and determine potential routes of exposure for workers.

In addition to combustible dust (which can be produced by the manufacturing of raw materials like wood and certain metals, as well as chemical manufacturing), your employees could come across asbestos, lead-based paint, ashes, or other materials. 

It's important to identify these risks before the job starts so that you can properly protect your workers from potential environmental exposures.

Establish Safety Protocols

Businesses should create safety protocols for instances when construction workers, asbestos workers, and other types of employees are cleaning up dust, debris, and other potentially dangerous building materials.

After assessing the risks of occupational exposure and establishing what kinds of materials are likely to be present, you need to figure out how workers could come into contact with these materials.

Once that has been determined, your company can set up rules so that workers stay safe during cleaning jobs. For example, it's vital to ensure that respirators and protective clothing are always used when dealing with hazardous materials. It's also crucial to keep dust levels low and monitor air quality throughout the job to avoid any potential exposure.

Employers must be aware of the relevant workplace safety regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as these will help determine the appropriate safety protocols for different cleaning operations.


Provide Personal Protective Equipment

It's your responsibility to ensure that all workers who could be exposed to tremolite asbestos fibers or other dangerous building materials while on the job have access to the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

This includes respirators, gloves, goggles, helmets, coveralls, and boots, at a minimum. More protection may be needed if workers are dealing with materials such as silica dust or lead.

Make sure that the PPE is in good condition and fits properly. Likewise, you should provide effective training so that workers understand how to use PPE correctly and safely.


Implement Workplace Safety Training Programs

Go above and beyond in providing seminars and instructional sessions going over the types of dangerous materials that your employees could encounter on the job, as well as how to stay safe around them. As mentioned earlier, this training should include how to properly wear PPE and mistakes to avoid when dealing with hazardous materials.

Keep in mind that even if you do have the correct safety protocols and PPE in place, it's not enough to simply provide them and expect your employees to effectively use them. Appoint a designated safety officer who can conduct regular inspections and oversee employee safety protocols in the field.

Monitor Air Quality Regularly

As a way of protecting your employees, air quality monitors can be an effective way to identify and monitor combustible dust and high-risk asbestos exposure areas at cleaning sites.

Air monitors are designed to measure the amount of airborne particles in an area, allowing you to assess the risk of hazardous airborne materials for your workers.

Air monitors should be used in any area where hazardous materials such as asbestos-containing products are present or where combustible dust may accumulate. This should include areas that are frequently cleaned, such as industrial workshops or construction sites.

By using air monitors regularly, you can detect potential risks before they become a danger to workers. This gives you the chance to take steps to reduce or eliminate these hazards before they become a safety concern.


Utilize Vacuum Systems

When it comes to cleaning itself, your business should invest in high-quality, industrial-grade vacuums and vacuuming systems that are designed specifically for cleaning up hazardous dust, asbestos materials, and other dangerous debris.

These kinds of cleaning machines are specially designed for hazardous environments and can help employees safely clean up airborne particles that may be present at a job site.

Industrial vacuums come with several safety features, such as HEPA filters that capture microscopic particles and help to reduce the risk of workers coming into contact with airborne contaminants.

Additionally, these vacuums often provide more powerful suction power than regular household vacuum cleaners, allowing them to quickly and efficiently pick up large amounts of hazardous dust and debris.

Companies can also invest in automated vacuuming systems, which allow for continuous air monitoring and regular maintenance checks to ensure their workplaces remain safe from potentially hazardous materials.


Follow Up with Medical Exams

Employee safety extends beyond the completion date of the cleaning job. Make sure your employees are undergoing regular medical examinations to help ensure their ongoing health and safety. 

These exams will not only give you insight into the health status of your workers, but they will also provide an opportunity for your employees to report any symptoms, illnesses, or injuries they may have experienced while on the job.

Additionally, regular medical exams can alert you to potential health issues and workplace injuries before they become serious, allowing you to take appropriate action. Medical exams can also provide a baseline for future testing so that you can track changes in your workers' health over time.

For all these reasons, regular medical exams are essential for robust health programs that ensure a safe work environment.


By providing the necessary protective equipment and safety training to your employees, closely monitoring air quality, and utilizing vacuum systems for efficient clean-up of hazardous particles, you can create a safe working environment for all your staff.

Taking these steps will help minimize the health risks associated with environmental exposure to dangerous substances and keep everyone in your workplace healthy. Get started today by reaching out to the industrial cleaning professionals at MastercraftUSA to view their full line of commercial-grade cleaning equipment.