MIOSHA to ensure industrial employers have proper ventilation

New alliance will educate workers about responsibilities of maintaining effective systems.
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The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) and the Michigan Industrial Ventilation Conference (MIVC) signed an alliance agreement to educate workers who are involved in industrial ventilation practices on how to reduce and prevent exposure to airborne contamination.

Nella Davis-Ray. Courtesy Kurt Wanamaker

Nella Davis-Ray, director of MIOSHA’s consultation, education and training division, said the goal of the alliance is to keep workers informed about the responsibilities they have under MIOSHA standards that address industrial ventilation issues.

The three-year alliance allows MIOSHA to get input from MIVC staff on information they are sharing with employers such as fact sheets and documents that will help employers learn how to maintain an effective ventilation system. The alliance, Davis-Ray said, also will offer opportunities for workers to engage with professionals who teach at the conference. 

MIVC hosts educational conferences with experts who provide instruction and lectures to individuals such as industrial hygienists, engineers, contractors and manufacturers from across the world about the design, construction, use and testing of ventilation systems. 

“This alliance formalizes the long-standing collaborative agreement between the MIVC and MIOSHA that began in 1952,” said MIVC Executive Director Gregg Grubb. “The MIVC will provide affordable, expert industrial ventilation training and educational services to Michigan consultants, regulatory agencies, employers and employees seeking training on how best to design, operate, maintain and assess industrial ventilation systems. Such training and information will be useful toward reducing employee exposure to airborne contaminants in Michigan’s workplaces. The MIVC will also serve as an informational resource to MIOSHA and Michigan’s workplaces.”

Gregg Grubb. Courtesy Michigan Industrial Ventilation Conference

There are numerous categories of contaminants that are a threat to the respiratory health of workers in the industrial workplace, including gasses, vapors and particles. Some of these contaminants include carbon monoxide, toluene, acetone, dust, fumes, asbestos, smoke and mists.

Industrial ventilation systems, Grubb said, do not include heating and air conditioning systems.

“A lot of people confuse industrial ventilation systems with the heating ventilation and air conditioning systems, or HVAC systems, that you have at home or that provide air in an office setting or something of that nature. Industrial ventilation is not that type of application,” he said. “Those systems have different design parameters than industrial ventilation systems do.”

Grubb said industrial ventilation systems include local exhaust, general exhaust and replacement air, otherwise known as supply air ventilation.

“In a local exhaust ventilation system, we have a shaped hood that is located close to the source of a contaminant,” he said “So, either the contaminant could be literally generated inside the hood itself — what we call an enclosing hood system — or it could be a close capture system where the hood is located adjacent to the source that’s being generated. They capture the containment, move it through the hood through a duct system, typically through an air cleaning device. There is a fan that is used to supply the energy necessary to move the air and overcome all the resistances for moving the air through the ventilation system, and then exhausted either back to the atmosphere or recirculated back into the facility if it has been properly cleaned.”

Grubb said general exhaust systems come in two different categories: dilution systems and displacement ventilation systems.

“In a dilution system, where the contaminant source is not centrally located and conveniently captured by the local exhaust ventilation system, like lift trucks being used in a warehouse that run on natural gas, they are going to emit carbon monoxide into the workplace. You can’t get a local exhaust to capture that, so what you do in a warehouse application is, you bring in large volumes of fresh air to dilute the carbon monoxide to a safe exposure level.

“Displacement ventilation systems are systems that are still general exhaust systems, but instead of diluting the contaminant, we bring the air in at a velocity low enough (and) in large enough quantities and it acts like a ram to push the contaminants away from someone’s breathing zone to an exhaust point farther down in the room and building. Then there’s also replacement air. If I’m going to exhaust air from a building, I need to bring a nearly equal amount of air back into a building in order to ensure the ventilation system will function properly.”

Throughout the alliance, MIOHSA will work with MIVC to ensure that workers are educated and trained on the importance of proper ventilation systems.

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