The plastics industry employs over 1.1 million workers in the United States. OSHA has identified occupational hazards such as silicosis (finely ground crystalline silica is a material used as a functional filler in plastics manufacturing) and slips and falls caused by plastic pellets and beads. OSHA recommends Operation Clean Sweep, a program implemented by the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division and The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc., for guidelines on facility clean-up. OCS encourages resin producers, transporters, bulk terminal operators and plastics processors to implement good housekeeping practices to help minimize the generation and release of plastic dust and powder.
A proper maintenance program with an industrial vacuum cleaner can significantly decrease plastic dust exposure compared to traditional cleaning methods of sweeping and blowing down which moves dust around. When shopping for a vacuum cleaner, consider a portable unit that can be maneuvered around production areas and fit into a man lift to reach overhead pipes and beams. An industrial vacuum equipped with tubing and/or customized to operate with multiple users can make cleaning around extrusion towers and mezzanines easier and faster for maintenance staff. Your vacuum supplier should provide an on-site assessment to recommend a vacuum cleaner that has adequate power and suction for your needs.
Other features to look for:
- HEPA exhaust filter ensures that hazardous dust and/or debris is contained in the vacuum cleaner.
- Oversized filters will allow the machine to filter more efficiently. The larger the filter, the more space there is to trap particles that would otherwise clog or “blind” the filter, reducing suction and performance.
- Manual filter shaker or automatic filter cleaning system can reduce down time by purging the filter of caked on dust and debris.
- Accessories such long extension wands and curved nozzles that quickly and easily remove dust settled on overhead pipes and other hard-to-reach areas.
- Explosion-proof/dust ignition-proof models when handling combustible dust in an rated environment.
Products to consider: S2 or S3, Tool Caddy, T Series, 118
For more information on industrial vacuums for the plastics industry, visit www.nilfiskindustrialvacuums.com.