The Rafters are High & So Are the Risks

Ridding your facility of dust involves more than simple housekeeping. Understand the risks, and know how to effectively and safely clean your rafters and high places to avoid the dangers of dust.

If your regular facility cleaning routine includes sweeping the floors and blowing dust off machinery, you may want to re-think this process. There are high risks involved in cleaning this way.

Dust rises and settles on high fixtures, including out-of-reach rafters. What happens when surface dust accumulates on these surfaces?

The High Risks with High-to-Reach Dust

First, dust will periodically fall down onto machinery or products on the floor, which can impede or damage costly machinery and cause products to be contaminated or deficient.

Dust is also be dispersed into the air which employees breathe. The decreased air quality could lead to employee illnesses and a lower rate of productivity and efficiency. The ceiling acts like a filter for a building. If the ‘filter’ isn’t cleaned properly, the air in the building becomes unhealthy to breathe.












Dust that accumulates in damp areas with little or no light are prime spots for dangerous mold and bacteria to grow. Piles of dust become a breeding ground for mites, bacteria, viruses, and other pollutants, becoming a health threat to anyone who works or visits the facility. 

The Dangers of Combustible Dust

If that isn’t enough, rafter and ceiling dust could be combustible dust which when disturbed is highly explosive. When a small fire or explosion happens with ground level dust, the shock waves from this disrupt the ceiling dust. The dust then falls and creates an explosive dust cloud in the building. This second, much larger cloud of dust becomes a dangerous fire bomb.

According to OSHA documentation, in the first six months of 2018, there were 75 fires, 14 explosions, nine injuries and one fatality reported in North America.*

Though the severity of explosions may be decreasing, recent data from the CSB (Chemical Safety Board) shows a steady continuation of combustible fires.*

Knowing how to effectively and safely clean high rafter dust is not only important for your facility, but also for the safety and health of your employees.

How to Clean High Rafter Dust & Prevent Dust Fires

Can you completely rid your facility of high-rafter dust? How can you reduce the risk of combustible dust fires? First, be sure to implement and follow the mandatory OSHA standards for combustible dust. Second, follow (combustible) dust cleaning standards for your industry, which includes following the (National Fire Protection Association) NFPA 652 and NFPA 654. Third, regularly schedule industrial cleaning services provided by a company with OSHA trained and certified technicians. Dust accumulation on high places is not completely unavoidable. If you maintain a high standard of regular industrial cleaning, however, the risks are reduced considerably.

Hughes Environmental technicians are OSHA-trained and are experienced in cleaning high surfaces. Hughes Environmental uses equipment approved for combustible dust cleaning, such as intrinsically safe vacuums and grounded hoses.

To schedule high rafter or ceiling cleaning for your facility, or to learn more about combustible dust remediation, contact us or call: 888.845.3952.