Dust and safety in the workplace

Flour dust & asthma

Flour is sometimes associated with asthma (bakers asthma). A maximum exposure limit for flour dust has been established in several countries' workplaces. The European flour milling association actively collaborated with the EU legislator & its Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL). It is now recognised that EU flour mills have worked hard over the years to ensure that flour is kept enclosed in the milling process and that exposure to dust is minimised.

ATEX Directives

Though very rare in the EU, the risk of a dust explosion is taken very seriously by the flour milling industry. Dust explosions require the presence of an explosible dust, air/oxygen and a source of ignition. Flour, wheat and related dusts have explosive qualities.

ATEX is the name commonly given to the European Directives for controlling explosive atmospheres. The Equipment and Protective systems intended for use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres (ATEX) Directive 94/9/EC and its guidance document provide the technical requirements to be applied and the relevant conformity assessment procedures before placing this equipment on the European market.

The new ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU is aligned with the 'New Legislative Framework' and will be applicable from 20 April 2016.

Research

Research commissioned by the European flour millers has presented consistent and logical results for a range of dusts to be found in a flour mill: the research confirms that flour is low on the level of explosible dusts. Also, the minimum ignition energy levels recorded in the research gave no cause for concern.

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