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Do you know if your workers are breathing in hazardous air?

Safe Work Australia’s Clean Air. Clear Lungs. campaign focuses on industries most at risk of occupational lung diseases. 

In our last article we looked at identifying common hazards the engineered stone and agriculture industries. Today we focus on common hazards in the manufacturing and construction industries.

Manufacturing is a broad industry and workers can use many hazardous substances. Tasks where manufacturing workers can be exposed to hazardous substances that can cause lung diseases include:

  • welding can release hazardous fumes
  • spray painting that releases hazardous fumes and vapours
  • working with materials that release vapours and fumes containing isocyanates, such as making rubber, foams and plastics
  • using paints, glue and varnishes containing isocyanates that release vapours and fumes
  • food production that involves flour and other dusts
  • resource technology and minerals processing that releases dust and metal fumes
  • medical products and pharmaceuticals that release dusts and fumes
  • recycling processes that could release harmful contaminants.

Construction workers can be exposed to a range of hazardous substances, such as dust from concrete and fumes from welding. Tasks where construction workers can be exposed to hazardous substances that can cause lung diseases can include:

  • creating dust when cutting, grinding, polishing and crushing concrete, pavers, tiles and bricks
  • creating dust when cutting plasterboard 
  • using paints, glue and varnishes containing isocyanates that release vapours and fumes
  • welding which can release hazardous fumes
  • creating dust when cutting and sanding some types of wood.

Reviewing model Codes of Practice, safety data sheets and labels of products can help with understanding the risk to workers and implementing effective control measures. 

You can learn more about identifying the risks using the case studies, information sheets and checklist available on the website at www.swa.gov.au/clearlungs.

Why not have a look at the animations too?

Translated information is also available for culturally and linguistically diverse workers and employers.
 

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