Some of the most dangerous occupations in the UK might not be the ones you would necessarily think of as dangerous. Sure, construction workers, firefighters and police officers all face their fair share of hazards – but many of the biggest dangers are ones you can’t see – or simply don’t notice.
We’re referring, of course, to respirable dust and fumes. These potentially hazardous, sometimes carcinogen-carrying particulates are given off by a surprising number of processes across a vast number of industries.
We started VODEX when one of our founders felt ill after visiting a nail salon. Ever since then, it’s been our mission to make businesses safer by offering the highest-quality, COSHH-compliant local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems.
What is local exhaust ventilation and why is it so important?
LEV systems are designed to remove potentially harmful fumes, dusts, vapours, mists and gases from the air at source – before they enter people’s breathing zones. By ‘at source’, we mean at the very point the substance is produced. Local exhaust ventilation literally pulls fumes into the extractor before they spread through a workplace.
This is very different from general extraction systems and air purifiers, which suck in air that’s already in the general breathing zone. All have useful applications in industry, but general extraction should never be used as a substitute for local exhaust ventilation.
Five workplaces you didn’t know needed local exhaust ventilation
These are our picks of the five most surprising workplaces that need at-source extraction.
The first of our jobs that really need fume and dust extraction is the role of the humble baker.
It’s certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of danger. After all, the chances of running into a violent customer or a combustible gas building up are relatively slim!
However, bakeries are full of flour dust which can easily enter the breathing zone, causing illnesses like asthma. Bakers are also at high risk of developing work-related dermatitis – a skin condition that can be prevented by wearing suitable PPE, but may need creams or other treatments to manage if it does develop.
A suitable at-source extraction system at the point where dough is made can go a long way to making sure people in your bakery don’t develop these issues. This goes for any other businesses that deal with dough, too. Pizzerias, for instance, could benefit from a suitable LEV system to protect their people, which is also probably one of the last places you’d expect to see one.
Unlike bakeries, farms are full of physical dangers, from complex machinery to wandering livestock. Like bakeries, though, farms are also full of dangers to people’s respiratory health in the form of grains and dust fumes. That’s why we’ve included them on our list of five surprising workplaces that need fume and dust extraction.
Poultry farm staff, for instance, typically have double the incidence of workplace-related asthma. Dust mites, mould, dead skin, faecal matter, wood shavings and more all contribute to these health hazards. Conversely, local exhaust ventilation, together with sensible and safe working practices, can help make things considerably safer.
Carrying out a risk assessment should be your first point of call if you own or work on a farm. For more information on that, see our post Farm Fumes: The Health Risks and Solutions.
Musical instrument workshops
Another surprising workplace you might see fume and dust extraction systems in is the workshop of a musical instrument store.
If your first thought here is replacement strings, then you admittedly might not think of local exhaust ventilation. But the truth is that repairing, restoring and cleaning musical instruments to an almost-good-as-new standard can be incredibly physical and chemical-heavy work.
Restoring an old, beat-up acoustic guitar to a playable, sellable standard is, for instance, an act of minor carpentry – with all of the potential wood dust that such an act creates. You might also need to remove mould from an old piano, or buff and polish a trombone to get it back to its best. You might even need to do a spot of painting!
Whatever the repair job, local exhaust ventilation is something music store owners should have high on their agenda.
Salons and barbers
Given how we started, we’d be remiss not to mention beauty salons here. But did you know that hairdressers are also one of those workplaces that should take extra health and safety precautions?
For barbers and hairstylists, the most significant danger is the many chemical-heavy products their hands are exposed to throughout the day – giving them a higher than normal chance of developing dermatitis. Shampoos, conditioners, bleaches, hair colours and styling clays, gels and waxes are all everyday health concerns which, at the very least, should necessitate wearing plastic gloves – or washing hands thoroughly and often if not.
The need for health precautions is even greater in nail salons, however. Here, the pungent, fume-filled nail polishes and glues represent a severe health risk that should be guarded against with at-source extraction.
Luckily, we designed our VODEX SalonAIR® unit and FileOWay accessory to combat this exact problem – and more and more people in the beauty industry are now seeing them as the ideal solution to a previously vexing problem.
Like nail salons, we also have a dedicated LEV solution designed specifically for dental clinics. It’s called the VODEX DentalAIR UVC®, and it’s designed to rapidly remove particulates from the breathing zone in and around a dental chair – protecting both patients and dental staff alike.
How rapidly? Well, see for yourself below!
In fact, the DentalAIR is so effective that it can considerably reduce Covid-19 fallow time in dental practices. In other words, it can remove potentially Covid-carrying particulates from the air quickly, meaning dentists have to legally leave less time between patients – and can effectively keep their business running as close to pre-pandemic levels as possible.
Because of this, the DentalAIR is becoming quite well known in the dental industry. If you’re outside it, however – or you’re just setting up a dental practice of your own –then you’d probably say dental surgeries are one of the five places you might be surprised to find fume extraction.
Does your workplace need effective at-source extraction?
At VODEX, we’re completely dedicated to improving people’s respiratory and dermatological health in the workplace. That’s why we carry a range of safety products across a wide variety of industries.
If your workplace needs local exhaust ventilation (or even suitable PPE, in many cases), we can help. Contact us to find out how, or learn more using the industry buttons in our navigation bar at the top of the site.