1117 Dust control measures in the reduction of silica exposure on surface mines


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Abstract

IntroductionThere are several types of surface mining, but the three most common are open pit, strip mining and quarrying. Open cast mining activities produce dust. In open cast mining the process of accessing the ore body involves the removal of the natural land surface, using mobile excavation equipment such as bull dozers, front end loaders, and haulage trucks.Recent studies have found that silica dust confers an increased risk for Tuberculosis, and that the risk persists even after dust exposure ends. The interaction between inadequate silica dust control, a high burden of HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis, present major challenges to occupational hygiene control measures in silica dust suppression as well as medical surveillance monitoring programmes.MethodsStratified random sampling from five homogenous exposure groups (n=30) in two settings was used in a descriptive correlational research design to compare the personal gravimetric sampling results of silica dust and the implementation of dust suppression methods on employees.ResultsThe results indicated a positive correlation between dust suppression and a reduction in employee ‘s personal exposure.DiscussionA primary prevention approach entails controlling the dust at source so as to reduce the employee exposure through the introduction of dust control measures, and appropriate technologies i.e. process enclosure, and wet techniques. It includes the enclosing/installation of air conditioning systems on mobile equipment, and closing of cab windows in driven equipment. Haul road dust control includes the constant watering of roadways during the mining operation. Employee education on health effects of dust exposure, work practices, maintenance of equipment and PPE, medical surveillance, chest X-rays and TB awareness and monitoring are essential in the elimination of silicosis.

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