In Canada there’s a joke that there are only two seasons: winter and construction. As the summer is upon us, it seems that we can’t escape the constant construction zones during our daily commutes. In addition to the frustration of being held up in traffic, there’s another (and much more serious) consequence to road repairs: dust.
We’ve been talking a lot about monitoring dust lately, but how can you control the dust before it becomes an issue? Today I want speak about the risks associated with dust and introduce a line of products by Magnum® Australia that can effectively control dust hazards, making working conditions much better and (more importantly) safer for workers.
Evaluating Your Hierarchy of Controls
In the world of safety, we look to the Hierarchy of Controls whenever a hazard must be resolved. The first step in securing a safe work environment is by eliminating the hazard. If that’s not possible, you must implement an engineered control – in other words, a system that will help minimize or lessen the hazard. If (and only if) you can’t secure the environment from the hazard, do you reach for PPE.
Where does dust come from?
In order to accurately evaluate your environment, you have to understand where the dust is coming from. This topic certainly isn’t restricted to construction alone. Dust can come from:
- Mining operations
- Underground and surface drills
- Loose debris
- Processing of ore or aggregates
What are the risks of working in a dusty environment?
Dust can create a thick, fog-like layer at a worksite. In addition to limiting workers’ vision, dust can also put their respiratory health at risk. The top concern on any site with dust is whether or not employees are breathing it in; developing silicosis is the biggest threat of all. By controlling the dust, you can mitigate the risk.
What are the regulations related to dust at work?
The OSHA Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction states that when using crushing machines, “water sprays or mists must be used for dust suppression.” Furthermore, the guide states:
To prevent airborne dust from being generated, full and proper implementation of controls requires that:
- Nozzles are located upstream of dust generation points and positioned to thoroughly wet the material;
- The volume and size of droplets is adequate to sufficiently wet the material (optimal droplet size is between 10 and 150 μm); and
- Spray nozzles are located far enough from the target area to provide complete water coverage but not so far that the water is carried away by wind.*
What’s the solution to dust?
If you can’t eliminate the dust at its source, the next step is to implement an engineering control to help isolate workers from the hazard, as suggested by OSHA above. The use of wet processes, such as misting dirty environments with water, allows dust particles to be held down and kept from becoming airborne and subject to being inhaled.
How do Magnum® Australia’s dust control solutions work?
There are a couple of different methods and customized solutions that Magnum® Australia uses to mitigate dust in industrial and construction workplaces – namely, through watering trucks and cannons.
Haul Road Dust Management
Watering trucks use valves with intelligent ground speed control or manual operation to spread water across drivable areas. With ground speed control, watering trucks ranging from 13,000 – 165,000 litres can be used to reduce the amount of water being sprayed while ensuring that there is enough being applied to settle the hazardous dust.
Stockpile Dust Management
Alternatively, cannons or misting systems can deploy the right amount of water on stockpiles or specific dust-creating work areas. This direct and targeted approach of spraying alleviates the risk of dust right from its source (i.e., an area where blasting is performed).
Both of these solutions work to stop dust containing silica before it gets airborne and becomes a health risk to personnel.
Magnum Australia is focused on developing and delivering innovative products to improve the operational efficiencies and safety elements of today’s mining and construction activities. Their products are globally recognized, and they’re able to deliver unparalleled technical service and support (and Levitt-Safety is the Canadian certified supplier!).
The use of wet processes, like Magnum® Australia’s dust control line, can help mitigate the risks before they happen. Worried that your workers might be suffering from a dusty environment? We’re glad to help you identify your hazards and recommend the solution that’s best for your site.