Choosing the Right Ventilation-September 2011

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

September 2011

IN THIS ISSUE: Choosing the Right Ventilation

Industrial ventilation is an important engineering control that can reduce or eliminate exposure to airborne chemicals and vapors. Processes that emit heat, fumes, particulates or dust may require ventilation to keep the workplace safe.

“Ventilation is perhaps the most important way to control exposure to airborne contaminants,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP, of OccuSafe, Inc. “At the same time, it must be properly designed, installed, used, and maintained for it to be effective.”  

How to Choose the Right Ventilation System

If ventilation is needed to control exposure to a hazardous chemical, a professional should be consulted. An improperly designed or installed system may do more harm than good.

  1. Conduct A Survey. Before a ventilation system is chosen, employee exposures should be evaluated to identify which processes are properly controlled and which are not.  A baseline air sampling survey is needed to make that determination. If exposures are exceeded, substitution with a less hazardous material, better work practice, or controls including ventilation should be initiated.
  2. Design the Right System. Dusts, mists, fumes, and vapors all have different characteristics, and what works for one will not necessarily work for the other. For example, a spray booth may be right for painting, but not for sanding.  Some tools, such as grinders, come equipped with shrouds that can be connected to a vacuum cleaner. As a general rule, ventilation should be placed as close to the source as possible. Why remove air from a whole room, when installing a duct where the contaminant is generated is more effective and less costly? In many cases less is more. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist (ACGIH) publishes Industrial Ventilation: A Manual of Recommended Practice, an excellent guide that includes numerous ventilation systems. 
  3. Provide Training and Maintenance. Once a ventilation system is complete, training in proper work practices and regular maintenance are needed. It is important that the operator knows how to properly use and maintain the ventilation. For example, a monometer may need to be monitored to see that air flow meets specifications. Alarms and detectors may be essential for some hazardous chemicals. A regular maintenance schedule should be implemented for belts, motors, filters, etc. Consult manufacturer and design specifications for maintaining all ventilation equipment.

Ventilation is an important means of controlling employee exposures. Consideration of the type of hazard, training, maintenance, and design are all needed, for it to be effective. For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or (303) 219-6973 or visit us at

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate andcontrol hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc.   Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

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