Minimizing Respirable Dust Exposure in Enclosed Cabs by Maintaining Cab Integrity - Objective
Description:To minimize the equipment operator’s respirable dust exposure in enclosed cabs of mobile equipment by install-ing cab filtration and pressurization systems and by keep-ing doors and windows closed. Background Enclosed cabs are used on mobile equipment to protect operators from health and safety hazards. The primary health concern is overexposure to respirable dust. Examples of such equipment in mining include drills, dozers, haul trucks, and other equipment. When equipment is new, the operator’s dust exposure is normally at acceptable levels. As the equipment ages and gaskets and seals deteriorate, the air quality inside an enclosed cab can reach a point where it is no longer at acceptable levels for the equipment operators. In an effort to improve the air quality in enclosed cabs of older mining equipment, NIOSH has been performing research to retrofit cabs with new filtration and pressurization systems. Over the past few years, this research has shown that retrofit systems can substantially improve the cab’s air quality back to safe and acceptable levels. How-ever, this is only possible when a positive cab pressure is achieved and maintained. Thus, when a cab door or window is opened, the cab pressure drops to zero and the cab filtration and pressurization system is rendered ineffective. During a recent field study, the magnitude of this impact was noted when a drill operator repeatedly opened the cab door throughout the course of the drill cycle. Upon closer examination, it was determined that the cab door was being opened to manually guide the next drill steel into place each time an additional section of steel was needed to drill deeper holes.
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