Using an industrial vacuum cleaner is a legal requirement on most construction sites, as well as on many industrial and manufacturing sites.
This guide covers everything you need to know about industrial vacuum cleaners, including the importance of dust classes and legislation around potentially explosive materials. It will also detail some of the advantages of hiring an industrial vacuum cleaner versus purchasing a machine or accessing one on finance.
What is an industrial vacuum cleaner?
An industrial vacuum cleaner is a special type of vacuum cleaner that can be used in specific environments to clean potentially hazardous dust. The main purpose of the machines is to help protect human health and to maintain site safety.
Industrial vacuum cleaners are designed to meet specific legal standards to make affected sites compliant. They can be used to clean substances including:
- Potentially explosive material
Got a specific question about hiring an industrial vacuum cleaner? Speak to a member of our team today.
What’s the difference between industrial and commercial vacuum cleaners?
Industrial vacuum cleaners should not be confused with professional or commercial vacuum cleaners that might ordinarily be used in large commercial premises.
Industrial vacuum cleaners tend to be more powerful, have a stronger vacuum and a greater internal capacity – but this is not the main difference between commercial and industrial machines.
The most significant difference relates to the safety of industrial vacuum cleaners, particularly how well they collect and store potentially hazardous dust without leaking any into the surrounding atmosphere.
Industrial vacuum cleaners are also split into different classes according to how safe they are and what kinds of sites they can be used on. Commercial vacuum cleaners, meanwhile, are generally compared on performance statistics such as power and size.
What businesses use industrial vacuum cleaners?
Industrial vacuum cleaners are used on a wide variety of construction, manufacturing and industrial sites. Sites that typically require an industrial vacuum cleaner the most are those where there are significant quantities of fine dust in the air.
Regularly breathing this dust has been linked with diseases like lung cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and silicosis. Organisations have a responsibility to ensure that workers and others are not exposed to this dust.
Sites where an industrial vacuum cleaner is typically required include:
- Construction sites
- Food manufacturers
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Plastic, paint or chemical sites
- Wood/metal workshops
What is a dust class?
In construction and on other industrial sites, the main legislation covering potentially hazardous dust is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). COSHH requires companies to adequately control potentially harmful environments and to prevent workers from being exposed to hazardous substances.
Portable dust extraction equipment, which includes industrial vacuum cleaners, is classified as H, M or L Class depending on what kinds of dust they are designed to pick up.
Highly carcinogenic materials like asbestos are classed as High Hazard Materials. Industrial vacuum cleaners that pick up this kind of material need to be H Class. This means that the cleaner must leak no more than 0.005% of the collected dust because it can be so damaging to human health.
Medium Hazard Materials including silica, MDF and natural wood dust need to be cleaned using an M Class industrial vacuum cleaner that leaks no more than 0.1% of the collected dust. Less hazardous construction dust, meanwhile, can be cleaned using an L Class industrial vacuum cleaner, which leaks no more than 1% of the collected material.
Any construction projects where concrete, mortar or manmade wood products (such as MDF) are being worked should use at least an M Class industrial vacuum cleaner and in some cases an H Class machine will be appropriate.
Determining the required dust class is the responsibility of the customer. An industrial vacuum cleaner hire company will then supply a machine that meets the customer’s requirements.
What is ATEX?
ATEX is generally used to describe two European Directives designed to control potentially explosive atmospheres.
The first directive – 99/92/EC – is also known as the ATEX Workplace Directive and sets out the minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection for workers that are potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.
It requires companies to manage risk by, for example, preventing the formation or ignition of explosive atmospheres, conducting hazardous areas risk assessments and classifying workplaces into hazardous area zones depending on the frequency and duration of an explosive atmosphere.
ATEX Zone 21 is used to describe an area where there is a high risk of explosion caused by powder or dust.
ATEX Zone 22 is used to describe an area where there is a medium risk of explosion caused by powder or dust.
As with dust class, it is the company’s responsibility to classify a work area as an ATEX zone. An industrial vacuum cleaner hirer will then supply a machine that meets the customer’s requirements.
What are the advantages of contract hire?
Many companies prefer to hire an industrial vacuum cleaner on a contract hire arrangement, rather than purchasing one outright. There are a number of benefits of contract hire.
- No initial outlay – You pay nothing up front. Payment is only due at the end of the month.
- Availability – Equipment is available to hire immediately.
- Modern equipment – Get an improved clean with the most up to date equipment.
- Fixed costs – Greater budgetary control and the ability to forecast costs more accurately.
- No maintenance time or costs – The contract hire company is responsible for all maintenance, including general maintenance, servicing, PAT testing and fulfilling other legal requirements.
- Flexibility – Access different equipment easily if your circumstances change.
- Easier disposal – Removes disposal risks plus the cost and hassle of part exchanging or selling equipment.
- Protect credit – Keeps core lines of credit open by not tying up equipment as assets.
- Peace of mind – Access equipment without taking on unnecessary risk.
Why choose Kärcher Hire
Kärcher Hire supplies the highest quality cleaning equipment to organisations right around the UK, offering nationwide next-day delivery on all machines.
The specialist hiring arm of the industry-leading Kärcher Group, Kärcher Hire has developed a reputation for customer service and industry experience.
Clean Sweep suppliers the very best-maintained machines on a short notice contract and ad-hoc/spot hire basis. The company counts some of the UK’s largest cleaning contractors, facilities management companies, manufacturers, logistic companies, event management companies, shopping centres and educational facilities as customers and partners.
For the best equipment and a friendly, reliable service every time, speak to a member of our team today.