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Dust Devil

Classroom Dust Safety

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I'm just finishing up a pottery course and I'm wondering about the safety practices in my classroom. Two concerns:

1) It's a combination coffee house and pottery shop, which I see is pretty common,

2) They do sanding and glaze mixing indoors. I see a common recommendation that these things be done outdoors or in a paint booth.

So I'm concerned about dust floating around, particularly in a place where food and beverages are consumed. They do have an air filtration device in the ceiling, but it's small relative to the room size and far enough away from the floor that there probably is no airflow in the direction of the unit. I haven't seen anyone use a dust mask.

Are these flagrant safety violations or am I being a Nervous Nellie?

Edited by Dust Devil
clarity

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42 minutes ago, Dust Devil said:

I'm just finishing up a pottery course and I'm wondering about the safety practices in my classroom. Two concerns:

1) It's a combination coffee house and pottery shop, which I see is pretty common,

2) They do sanding and glaze mixing indoors. I see a common recommendation that these things be done outdoors or in a paint booth.

So I'm concerned about dust floating around, particularly in a place where food and beverages are consumed. They do have an air filtration device in the ceiling, but it's small relative to the room size and far enough away from the floor that there probably is no airflow in the direction of the unit. I haven't seen anyone use a dust mask.

Are these flagrant safety violations or am I being a Nervous Nellie?

Depends on how you choose to look at it.

I'm guessing that most people there are either drinking coffee or doing ceramics and not both at the same time.  If you're getting coffee and hanging around for an hour or whatever the amount of exposure is negligible.  I'd worry most for the employees, because they're being exposed for an entire shift to potentially dangerous silica.  As far as mixing glazes goes, are they doing it while serving people?  Like powder flying all over the place?  That would be really strange, it seems like glaze could be mixed while they're closed or something.  I could probably taste the grit of the powders in my food and drink, gah!

But in the end you should probably ask your studio directly because they may have already addressed all of your concerns in a well concealed manner.  I'd leave the "safety violations" up to the OSHA inspectors to determine, there are safety limits for airborne silica and other powders and they have the tools to measure it, but again that's for long term exposure, you're not at a huge risk by being in there an hour or two at a time (although silica accumulation is permanent).  

Caveat, I work in an industry where airborne silica is part of my job and we have to go through the safety rigamarole every year, and everyone adheres to the PPE and wet cleaning precautions for a few weeks before getting out of the habit again and it's really sad, but no one I've known in the industry has had silicosis, but know 2 people with lung cancer.

Edited by liambesaw

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Biggest hazard in a ceramic studio is airborne silica. The stuff you don’t see, ie less than 1 micron, can float around for days after being released into the air. The fact that they are doing sanding indoors is enough to be concerned with,  doing both  this and mixing glazes without wearing a P100 respirator is irresponsible. In addition to the silica issue many glaze materials are hazardous, you don’t want to be eating, drinking (or smoking) in the glaze lab. Do you have more info on the air filtration device they have in place? Is there a source of fresh air coming into the facility? Are the kilns firing in the same room and are they vented?

I wouldn’t call you a Nervous Nellie. 

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The place lets independent potters use the equipment for a monthly fee, so the only people I've noticed mixing are these potters, not the employees. We haven't covered glazes yet in class, so it will be interesting to see what procedures they have us follow.

I'm planning on doing the monthly plan, but I'm hesitant to hang around in the area too long. I've ordered my own wheel, so that probably won't be an issue.

Thank you

 

2 hours ago, liambesaw said:

As far as mixing glazes goes, are they doing it while serving people?  Like powder flying all over the place?  That would be really strange, it seems like glaze could be mixed while they're closed or something.  I could probably taste the grit of the powders in my food and drink, gah!

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1 hour ago, Min said:

 Do you have more info on the air filtration device they have in place? Is there a source of fresh air coming into the facility? Are the kilns firing in the same room and are they vented?

I used to work for a company in the dust collection business, so know a little bit about the subject. These are the sort of units we'd sell to restaurants to clear up cigarette smoke, although a bit larger. They merely filter and recirculate environmental air that floats near the ceiling.

What we sold to manufacturing operations was different...there'd be a pickup right where the dust was being generated with a pretty high intake velocity...there are charts that specify the sort of fan needed to make that happen, based on type of dust, number of stations, duct length and diameter, etc. A pickup really needs to be within a few feet of the dust source to be effective.

The kilns are in a separate room...I haven't taken a close look at them, but the owner seemed very aware of the venting requirements for kilns, so I'm assuming he's done what was necessary. Overall, the facility is pretty nice and well-organized...it's certainly a lot neater, cleaner, and well-organized than many of the workshops I've seen on YouTube.

Thanks for your comments.

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Sounds like they need to enforce rules about sanding and mixing glazes indoors then, might be one of those situations where they're too busy doing coffee or focusing on their own stuff that they don't realize people are doing dangerous things.  Either that or they are just loosey goosey and don't give a heck.  At least where I work there is HEPA circulation 24/7, sounds like they just got a big fart fan.  

Probably something to bring up when talking to the place about joining.

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They need to ban sanding altogether unless it's done outdoors in a specified area that's not near any walking paths, windows, or air intake vents. Glaze mixing needs to have its own room that is well vented. They also need to a have a clear set of rules regarding cleaning, which includes a ban on sweeping dry materials. And they need someone to enforce these rules.

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1 hour ago, neilestrick said:

They need to ban sanding altogether unless it's done outdoors in a specified area that's not near any walking paths, windows, or air intake vents. Glaze mixing needs to have its own room that is well vented. They also need to a have a clear set of rules regarding cleaning, which includes a ban on sweeping dry materials. And they need someone to enforce these rules.

Thanks for a clear set of recommendations. I do think they mop, rather than sweep, at least.

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