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Dust in the workplace: Watch out for the risks

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

No matter what kind of job you do, if there is a risk of being around dust, then that dust could lead to injuries. Dust is a recognized occupational hazard. It can cause serious health issues such as respiratory diseases and skin conditions.

In the short term, dust may cause irritation or coughing, but long term, it can lead to further damage. Depending on the kind of dust you’re inhaling, for example, you could end up dealing with asbestos exposure, occupational asthma or other conditions.

Don’t forget the risk to your eyes

Some people forget that the eyes can be damaged by dust, too. Visual disturbances can happen if dust gets into the eyes and occludes the lenses. Your eyes may become irritated. If the dust is scratchy enough, it could actually damage your eyes.

Long-term dangers of dust exposure

In the long term, dust exposure can lead to serious health problems. Sometimes, these take many years to develop.

Common long-term health issues related to dust may include:

  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung cancer
  • Skin cancer

All of these problems may manifest due to the irritation and toxicity of dust particles.

What can you do to keep yourself safer around dust?

To keep yourself safer, there are a few things that you or your employer can do.

First, focus on good ventilation. Ventilation makes a big difference in how much dust you’re exposed to. When dust is taken out of the air, you’re much less likely to inhale large quantities.

Another thing to consider is wearing a mask when you work with dust. An N95 or other mask can mitigate the exposure by filtering out dust particles that could be dangerous to you.

Your employer should go over safety precautions, so you can be aware and focus on doing what is best for your health. If you are exposed to dust and develop allergies, asthma or other health concerns, let your employer know. You may be able to seek workers’ compensation as well as the medical treatment you need to help you recover from dust exposure and the harm it has caused.