Warehouses and large storage spaces can be very dusty places. Not only can dust deposits be a respiratory health hazard, but they can also damage inventory. Severe dust deposits often need to be cleaned off of boxes before they are shipped to the client or end user. These further drain away the productive time of your warehouse employees.
The Dangers Of Warehouse Dust
You might be surprised just how dangerous warehouse dust can be to inventory as well as the human beings who need to handle it. You might also be surprised to hear that warehouse dust is slightly different from the dust you find clinging to the lampshades in your house.
Warehouse Dust Affects Respiratory Health
Employees who work in warehouses are increasingly prone to respiratory health problems. Especially if they aren’t provided with the proper PPEs needed to keep them from inhaling disturbed dust in vulnerable areas.
This can lead to issues with increased asthma attacks, allergic reactions, skin reactions, and other breathing problems. People who work in dusty warehouses for long periods of time without the proper respiratory equipment are also more likely to miss days of colds, bronchitis, and other respiratory health conditions.
Warehouse Dust Damages Equipment & Inventory
Dust isn’t just a problem affecting employee health. It can also impact your equipment, and possibly affect your inventory. Severe dust accumulation in machinery is a major contributor to equipment failure and breakdowns. If you don’t make a proactive effort to remediate the effects of dust on warehouse equipment you will likely face increased repair and replacement costs.
Dust that accumulates on boxes and exposed inventory typically needs to be cleaned off. While this is certainly true of long-term storage facilities. Even a recently placed box can be badly coated in an unprofessional level of dust when nearby inventory is moved, transferred, or shipped out.
What Makes Warehouse Dust Different?
A warehouse is a somewhat unique environment. Most have large, high ceilings with expansive heavy-duty shelving systems and enormous floors. These warehouse storage buildings are the perfect magnet for dust, which can settle on surfaces far and wide. Many times the simple act of sweeping the floor in a large warehouse can take hours and only manage to spread floor dust into the air.
It’s also worth noting that dust sources come from sources like settling diesel exhaust, degrading cardboard, and other indoor airborne particulate matter that you might find in a commercial environment. In some cases, this can make warehouse dust more irritating and potentially dangerous than the dust in your home, which is made up of more banal things like pet dander, shed skin, and stray pollen.
Warehouse Dust & The Threat Of Mold
Warehouse dust and cardboard boxes can also be a fruitful medium for mold development. If a roof leak or other water event moistens boxes or dust deposits, it can lead to a serious mold infestation. Sometimes it can even be the dangerous strain of Toxic Black Mold, which can be a serious threat to your employee’s health.
Warehouses That Are Prone To Dust Problems
There are some warehouses and long-term storage facilities that are more prone to dust problems than others. This includes some of the following commercial sites:
- Food Processing & Production Plants
- Woodworking facilities
- Recycling facilities
- Grain Elevators
- Coal-Fired Power Plants
The airborne particulate matter in these commercial storage facilities can be severe. Most of the time employees need special training and equipment to protect their respiratory health. Though this rarely includes advanced training in techniques for dust management.
How To Reduce Warehouse Dust Problems
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help manage warehouse dust and maintain employee productivity.
Where Dust-Prone Places In A Warehouse
It helps to understand that dust can settle on more than just the tops of boxes and shelves. Warehouse dust can cling to surfaces with greater adhesion than general household dust. This includes surfaces like Ventilation systems
- False ceilings
- Support beams
- Ceiling deck
- Drop down ceiling tiles
- Conveyor equipment
- Stock shelves
- Overtop of door frames
Developing A Warehouse Dust Management & Cleaning Strategy
An effective warehouse dust management strategy requires a multi-prong approach to cleaning key areas that are prone to dust buildup, as well as being proactive about general maintenance.
The first critical step in controlling dust in your warehouse or commercial storage is to sweep and clean your floors regularly. Electronic floor sweepers help cut down on the efforts and also help keep your warehouse dust levels reasonable.
Ideally, you want to work with small dust piles. Before they get too large, you can suck them up with a central vacuum system or a high-capacity commercial vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Cover Sensitive Inventory For Long Term Storage
A lot of manhours can be lost cleaning dust off of boxes and long-term storage items. Covering them with a tarp or wrapping entire pallets in an additional layer of shrink wrap lets you remove the dust buildup quickly without having to wipe or open the pallet’s primary wrapping.
Use Portable HEPA Filters
Dust buildup in warehouses typically increases as you continue to spread dust with each shipment. Providing employees with portable vacuum cleaners with a HEPA filter lets them strategically remove dust buildup without simply casting the dust back into the surrounding airspace.
Electric forklifts tend to spread much less dust than those that use internal combustion. You might also want to upgrade the tires which will further reduce dust disturbance. It will also reduce the number of unsightly black tire streaks on your warehouse floors.
Schedule Routine Deep Cleanings
A lot of commercial storage and warehouse managers find that scheduling a routine deep clean every few months goes a long way toward promoting effective dust management practices. Ideally, you want to set up a time when you know your inventory levels are low.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of manhours having your employees perform these tasks, you can always reach out to a professional cleaning company like Building Services Inc. We have experienced technicians who have years of experience cleaning commercial warehouse spaces of every kind. We use industry best practices and HEPA filtration systems to thoroughly remove dust to give you a beautifully clean and healthy warehouse space.