A New Method to Clean Dust From Soiled Work Clothes; CDC NIOSH Technology News
Description:To develop a quick, safe, and effective method that allows workers at mineral processing operations to clean their dust-soiled clothing periodically throughout the workday. Background Reducing workers' respirable dust exposure to silica and other harmful dusts and contaminants is an ongoing goal in the U.S. mining industry. One area of known worker exposure is from contaminated work clothes. A U.S. Bureau of Mines report documented a number of cases where a tenfold increase in a worker's dust exposure was measured from contaminated work clothes. In these cases, the dust emitted from clothing caused the worker's dust exposure to exceed the permissible exposure limit in less than 2 hours. The most effective way to eliminate this dust source is to have workers clean or change their work clothes. There are two federal regulations that impact the clothes-cleaning process. The first states that at no time shall compressed air be directed toward a person, but that when compressed air is used, then all necessary precautions shall be taken to protect persons from injury. The second regulation states that compressed air should only be used for cleaning purposes when it is less than 30 psi and used along with personal protective equipment. For the mining industry, by default, the only approved method to perform clothes cleaning is to have workers vacuum their clothes using a HEPA filter system. This is very difficult and time-consuming and, in most instances, not very effective. Most workers would prefer to use a single compressed air hose to blow dust from their work clothes. However, not only is this method prohibited by law, it usually creates a significant dust cloud in the work environment and contaminates coworkers.
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