Do you work at a dusty job? This doesn't refer to the dry, boring type of office job where you feel like you're collecting dust and cobwebs because you've sat at a computer all day. This is the type of job where you are grinding cement, wood, or stone into dust and breathing clouds of it all day. You feel like you live in a modern-day Dust Bowl. If this sounds like your job, make sure you understand and prevent some long-term health complications that can arise from working with dust.

1. The Problem with Breathing in Dust

During the time of the Dust Bowl, dust permeated into people's homes. They couldn't keep it off their food or even their pillows. They ate and breathed dust day and night. Not surprising that dust got into their lungs and caused pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

Today, workplace dust can cause similar problems to those who don't take precautions against the dust. Although dust compaction equipment is meant to prevent dust from escaping into the environment, it isn't 100% successful. Excess dust particles can escape – and you can be the one who inhales it – when you're working the machinery.

2. Advice for Avoiding Dusty Disasters

The best way to avoid a dusty disaster in the work place is to attend any safety trainings offered by your employer. Standard safety includes wearing a mask at work. Any time you are compacting dust, you should have both your mouth and nose covered to avoid inhaling dust. Remember that dust can also get in the eyes and cause irritation, so glasses or goggles are a safe choice, as well. Just make sure that whatever protective gear you wear doesn't impede your vision while you operate a compacter or crusher.

If you are unable to avoid health problems due to your work-place environment, consult someone about filing for compensation for any medical bills you incur. If you have taken proper safety precautions but still experience health problems, compensation should also cover the time you've had to take off work due to health problems caused on the job.

3. The Risk of a Fire or Explosion

Another concern when working with dust is that it is flammable. The small particles that escape into the atmosphere can ignite, especially if you're using chemicals in the area. Wood and grain dust are especially flammable, but cement and stone dust can be a problem, too.

There's no need to go into the ways you could be injured by an explosion – suffice it to say that explosions are possible when dust isn't properly contained.

4. Tips for Avoiding Fiery Fiascoes

Knowing how to operate the equipment under various weather conditions is crucial to avoid a fiery fiasco at work. Outdoor temperature and the temperature of the equipment both play a part in safety. If it's a hot day or your machinery is overheated, leave sufficient time between compacting your materials for the dust to settle and the equipment to cool. The ratio you mix dust with bonding fluid will also change depending on the temperature.

Always double check the capacity of crushers and other compaction equipment before you operate it. You don't want to start the job thinking you're working with the same machine as the day before only to find your company rented a smaller-capacity machine. Also keep the machine's ventilation clear of dust particles.

Dust compacting can be a fun, rewarding job – you get to work big machines, be outside much of the day, and build something new. But unless you take precautions against some of the work-place hazards, you could end up with a lung disease or singed trousers.