As summer comes around most people are thinking about things like vacations with their family, sunny beach trips, or cookouts. Anyone in the manufacturing industry is probably also thinking about their plant’s upcoming seasonal shutdown. This is a period of time, usually around July 4th, when all production comes to a stop within a plant, allowing maintenance and cleaning to be performed when machinery is stopped and there are no employees to work around. However, one area that should not be overlooked is your facility's rafter and ceilings.
Rafter and Ceiling Cleaning
Support beams, piping, ductwork, and various other surfaces are found in the high ceilings of a facility. Since these areas are out of sight, they are not regularly cleaned. This allows all the dust from the manufacturing process to collect on these surfaces, while the rest of the building appears clean. So as you plan what areas need to be cleaned during the summer, It is important to make sure these high surface areas are included.
Dirty Machinery and Equipment
The machinery isn’t the only area that collects a buildup of dust and grime from the manufacturing process. Anything hanging from the ceiling or walls is slowly collecting this debris, which can be disturbed by motion below and fall onto the manufacturing floor below. This falling dust can cause product defects or even damage machinery or equipment.
Cleaning these high surface areas is difficult, if not impossible, to do when machinery is operating and employees are present, but when the plant is shut down it becomes much easier to clean this dust. If this dust is combustible OSHA requires companies to clean it when it reaches 1/32 in thickness. In some of these hard to see areas the dust can build up to be much thicker than this. Cleaning this can eliminate an explosion hazard and avoid costly OSHA fines.
Less Efficient HVAC System
The HVAC system is also negatively affected by having a buildup of manufacturing dust collect within the duct, and cleaning this out during shutdown can make the entire system run more efficiently. Dust in the ductwork or coils can let microbes or fungus grow, which can be a health hazard when it blows through the building. The efficiency of the system is drastically lowered when it is dirty, and it can use up to 40% more energy than a clean system.
It is important for employee health that the HVAC system is able to effectively clean the air they are breathing. The EPA has found that indoor air is around 5 times more polluted that outside air, with some buildings having 100 times more pollution. Keeping the air system clean and effective makes sure the air employees are breathing is not dangerously polluted.
Employee Health Risks
Not only do dirty ductwork cause the HVAC system to run less efficiently, but they are the perfect breeding ground for mites, mold, bacteria, viruses, and other poisons that could contribute to Sick Building Syndrome. Mites and mold can cause allergic reactions in some people; bacteria and viruses will spread throughout the building making your employees sick.
Dust Explosion Risk
When the dust is being cleaned by someone untrained in proper procedures it can create a dust cloud when it falls into the air below the high ceiling. If the dust is one that is combustible, this can become an extremely dangerous hazard; combustible dust explosions can be fatal and destructive. The NFPA has created specific standards for the processes and equipment needed to handle cleaning combustible dust from high surfaces to prevent an explosion.
Hughes Environmental Rafter and Ceiling Cleaning Services
We specialize in cleaning projects for commercial and industrial facilities, and we’re focused on safety. Our technicians are OSHA trained, experienced working on high surfaces, and we’re experts in combustible dust safety. Our Commercial and Industrial High Surface Cleaning Services include:
- Ceiling Truss
- Exterior of ductwork
- Exhaust hood ventilation
- Storage racks/shelving
- Fire suppression systems
- Ceiling Deck
- And other elevated structural components