Miners’ Views About Personal Dust Monitors
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Miners’ Views About Personal Dust Monitors

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    Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis is the leading cause of death due to occupational illness among coal miners. This disease is caused by miners’ exposure to respirable coal mine dust. A Personal Dust Monitor has recently been developed to provide near real time feedback to miners regarding the number of milligrams of respirable coal mine dust in the air they breathe. This paper was prepared by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to document coal miners’ reactions to this new device, and how they make use of the information it provides. Structured interviews were conducted with 30 coal miners at four mines. A four-stage conceptual model of miners’ decision processes with respect to how they interpret and respond to the dust exposure numbers from their personal dust monitor is proposed. The stages are: Diagnosis, Action Planning and Intervention, Evaluation, and Institutionalization. The interview responses provide considerable support for the model. Most miners paid attention to Personal Dust Monitor feedback and made efforts to reduce their dust exposure. Their efforts included: changing where they positioned themselves, making ventilation system improvements, and using respirators more often. The 29 miners who reported having experience wearing both the old and new type of dust monitors were asked which dust sampling system they preferred. Eighteen (62%) preferred the new monitors, 7 (24%) preferred existing monitors, and 4 (14%) had no preference. The most frequently cited advantage of the new monitor is its ability to provide relatively quick feedback on dust exposure. Miners provided several suggestions for improving the design of the instrument.
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