Safety at Work
At Samuel James Chimney Sweep, the safety of the sweep and the customers is of upmost importance.
We all know that soot is a black powder but few know what constituents make up the compound that sweeps clean daily from the chimneys that we work on.
Soot is a by-product of the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons. It is black because it contains carbon particles that have failed to burn and which can be harmful.
The carbon particles in soot are very small, they may be only 2.5 microns in size (there are 25,000 Microns in an inch). This is a concern because these tiny particles are difficult to filter with standard vacuums and masks meaning they can end up in your lungs. The really bad thing is that these tiny black balls are so small that they can pass through the mucus membrane in your lungs permanently blocking the air sacks and reducing function. This can lead to chronic infections, asthma, COPD, cancers and a myriad of other things.
These compounds are found in low levels in a chimney so single exposure does not constitute a high risk, that comes from repeated exposure that has a cumulative affect.
Anyone who works with the by-products of combustion may be at risk and should do what is necessary to minimise these risks. These include but are not limited to:
Chimney sweeps, stove and fireplace installers, solid fuel service technicians, those working with bitumen e.g. roofers or tarmac layers, oil service engineers, those working with car exhaust repair, anyone who regularly is in the vicinity of bonfires such as some farm workers, people that work on and clean BBQs or wood fired pizza ovens and of course fire service personal.
Therefore, contamination is taken very seriously by Samuel James Chimney Sweep and every effort to reduce exposure is taken. This is reflected in the PPE and RPE that is used.