Hazmat Plus was engaged to complete an occupational hygiene assessment of two flour and starch mills to identify of any workers were being exposed to elevated levels of flour dust in their working environment. Flour dust is a hazardous substance. Workers in flour production or baking-related jobs may inhale the dust when it becomes airborne. The dust can irritate the respiratory tract and lead to occupational asthma, also known as baker’s asthma. Short term symptoms from dust exposure include cough, wheeze, shortness of breath (dyspnoea), hoarseness, asthma, eye problems, conjunctivitis, rhinitis and sinusitis. The health problems can develop over 30 years. Flour dust can also cause an explosion.
Hazmat Plus utilised their own inventory of XR5000 constant flow air monitors and IOM sampling heads with filters as per the Australian Standard (AS 3640-2009 Workplace atmospheres – Method for sampling and gravimetric determination of inhalable dust) to measure airborne inhalable dust over the duration of a work shift at both plants. The gravimetric analysis results concluded the dust capturing devices and work control practices were minimising flour dust exposure levels as far as reasonably practicable and the workers were not breathing in harmful concentrations of the dust. The exposure standard for grain and flour dust (oats, wheat, barley) is a Time Weighted Average (TWA) of 4mg/m3which is less then the exposure level for nuisance dust otherwise called “dusts not otherwise specified” which is 10mg/m3.