Some of the most integral manufacturing facilities are also the most dangerous: laboratories, food processing plants, and factories all work with heavy-duty chemicals that can easily cause respiratory distress or even death in workers if the harmful fumes aren’t whisked away.
The number one rule in manufacturing industries is to work safely and efficiently; this requires assessing risks and installing the proper equipment to manage these concerns without harming your bottom line. A smoke collection system is one of the most important elements you must install in your facility if you work with any products or chemicals that could pose the least danger to your workers. In fact, ventilation and smoke collection systems are required by OSHA for every field that works with chemicals, including welding, laboratories, and manufacturing facilities.
However, this doesn’t answer the question of how to install these vital pieces of equipment. Today, we’ll explore the process of developing a smoke collector in your facility so that you can remain on the right side of the law and ensure the health of your employees.
Get Familiar With Regulations
You must understand what’s legally required of you – and, if possible, exceed this. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed comprehensive standards that explain everything from exactly how much air must be moved through the system per second for every specific industry; their website provides these standards, such as precautions for welding. Search for your particular industry, then find the standards associated with ventilation and protection.
Now, it’s important to note that OSHA standards can’t tell you the exact specifics of what your own smoke collection system will look like, such as what parts will be needed and where they should be set; the standards only explain what’s necessary to meet the requirements, not how to do so. For this, you will need to work with an engineer. If you have technical questions, it’s best to contact a professional smoke collection installer rather than OSHA itself.
Contract a Suitable Engineer
Every facility is slightly different, as the types of chemical risks vary by field and plant; there’s no such thing as an “off the shelf” smoke collection system, especially as it must be carefully installed within the plant itself. You must work with a manufacturing company with experience installing smoke collection systems within your own field, so you should research and find a reputable company familiar with your industry.
Think About the Nature of Your Work
For this, you’ll need to refer to the standards set out by OSHA and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) for your industry, as mentioned above, and then consider what kinds of materials you work with and the fumes produced by the manufacturing process.
A machine shop that uses strong adhesives, solvents, and soldering will have different requirements than a laboratory that works with reagents and powerful acids. You’ll need to consider the particulate size and concentration, airflow, and exactly how close your employees get to the substance during the course of their work. The smoke collection installer will also ask careful questions to understand your industry’s needs, such as exactly what chemicals you work with and their respiratory hazards.
Review the Facility Layout
The facility’s layout and structure also matter: a very small lab might need a carefully designed fume hood, while an automotive plant needs something much stronger and more diffuse. You’ll have to consider facility size, equipment orientation, temperature, humidity, and location to figure out how to properly ventilate the area without endangering anyone.
Things like temperature and humidity may not seem important, but they can impact how the system works; muggy areas will need stronger equipment, because the heavy humidity will help to trap particulates so that they’re not collected as efficiently.
Choose the System
There are various smoke collection systems, such as active collection, passive collection, downdraft smoke and fume tables, general fume extractors, and mist collectors. Your installer will help you pick out which is best for your circumstances, but you should research exactly how the specific system works to know how to troubleshoot should there be a problem.
In addition, you should consider installing a spark trap, especially if you work in welding or anything that uses exposed flames, as this is a potent fire prevention tool.
Your system will be specially built and installed for your own facility using high-grade equipment, then carefully tested to ensure that every component is working properly. Now is the time to ask any questions and read the technical manuals provided to you so that you can recognize potential issues that may arise down the line.
It’s important to keep this expensive material in good repair, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your installer any time you have a question: they’re there to help you keep your workforce safe and your facility highly productive.
By reviewing these considerations and working with an excellent smoke collector installer, you can ensure that you’re meeting industry standards and maintaining a good facility that will remain efficient for years to come.