The textile industry, which incorporates both carpet and textile manufacturing, involves the design, production, manufacture and distribution of raw materials, either natural or synthetic, to create a finished product such as carpet, yarn or clothing.

As a large, diverse and global sector with a long history, the textile industry is complex, dividing into numerous sub-sectors with products ranging from wool and cotton blend fabrics to synthetic yarns and fashion clothing. The main processes include treating raw materials, preparing textile fibres, producing knitted and woven fabrics, bleaching and dyeing, transforming fabrics into finished goods and the production of home and industrial textiles.

Artificial synthetic fibres can be made in many ways including extrusion, wet spinning, dry spinning and melt spinning. These fibres are normally processed in great lengths. Natural fibres are either animal-based, mineral-based or plant-based, from the seed, stem or leaf of the plant and the fibres produced are often much shorter, just a few centimetres in length.

What are the main hazards?

The textile industry has many health and safety issues associated with it, including health hazards from exposure to cotton and other dust, chemical exposure from dyes as well as noise exposure and a very high risk of fires and explosions. In manufacturing environments, workers are exposed to airborne dust from a variety of natural and synthetic fibrous materials. During tasks such as weaving, cutting, spinning and packaging, workers can be exposed to dust from a variety of fibres and yarns, including hemp, cotton, silk, wool and flax and this exposure, in extreme cases, can cause nasal and other forms of cancers.

Why dust is a problem?

Dust can cause a variety of health problems and hazards within an industrial environment and can be a particularly serious hazard within the textile industry. Wool dust and flock dust, mostly from cotton, acrylic and nylon fibres, are the highest risk if dispersed into the atmosphere.

Having effective control measures in place such as good housekeeping practices and high standards of electrical machinery maintenance, is essential, as well as strict health and safety procedures to try and keep the overall risks to a minimum.

The textile industry is typically known for its dusty operations, such as blending, carding, winding and wool dust and cotton processing which has been shown to cause a variety of health problems. this includes asthma, respiratory irritations and diseases such as environmental lung disease, bronchitis, pulmonary diseases, as well as varied nose and eye irritations and infections. The fatal disease byssinosis can also be caused by excessive exposure to cotton dust, particularly if the worker has been exposed to high concentrations for many years. Symptoms include tightening of the chest, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

There are also several health risks from exposure to fibre-dust. These can include irritation to the eyes, nose and skin, dermatitis, lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, loss of lung function, fibrosis of the lung, cancers of the lung, as well as pulmonary disorders (byssinosis) which have long been linked to the dusts associated with the processing of raw cotton and flax fibres.

Limiting and controlling exposure to dust

In an ideal world, the generation of dust would be halted completely. However, as this would be very difficult to achieve, limiting the amount of dust produced and protecting workers from the ill-effects of this dust, is much more realistic.

If possible, dust-free dyes should be used, for example, as solutions, granules, pellets or pastes. Where this isn’t possible, and dry powder dust needs to be handled and processed, it is essential to try and limit the amount of handling to an absolute minimum. When dust is produced, the cleaning, de-dusting and removal methods used should be fast and effective without blowing the dust back into the atmosphere. That is why cleaning with a broom or brush or using compressed air is not recommended.

Is there a safer solution for dust removal?

When it comes to removing carpet and textile dust, particularly from contaminated work areas and personnel, in contrast to using compressed air, which can be expensive and potentially dangerous, blower-driven air has been shown to provide a safer and highly effective means of removing such fibres.

Removal of dust and debris from personnel is particularly important where they might be entering break-rooms, canteens, and other similar environments as this will help to avoid cross-contamination.

By using blower-driven air, the JetBlack Safety range of personnel Cleaning Booths can provide a safer and more convenient solution for personnel clean-down. What’s more, the product range has been designed as an easy-to-use alternative to compressed air, as the low-pressure, high-velocity air produced poses no threat to safety and can be directed at almost any part of the body. This gives organisations peace of mind and users a safer solution for all de-dusting operations.

The JetBlack Safety Cleaning Booth is particularly suited to agitating and removing dust from employees’ work clothes; a process which typically takes no longer than 30 seconds. The dust is then safely extracted away from the user and collected in the HEPA H14 extractor.

Personnel Cleaning Booth applications include:

  • Textile Plants
  • Carpet Manufacturers
  • Construction Sites