OH&S News

Dust suppression is beneficial for workers, equipment

With horror stories about incidences of silicosis and lung disease in Queensland coal and masonry workers in the mainstream media in recent years, there has been renewed attention on the harmful effects of airborne respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in dust emissions.

While the quarrying industry has over a significant period of time adopted best practice safety measures to address the exposure of its workers to RCS – largely through the development of rigorous Australian exposure standards – there are always options to reinforce and bolster their health and well-being in dusty conditions.

“The nature of today’s bulk materials handling operations is that they produce plenty of dust,” Neil Kinder, the CEO of family-owned materials handling components supplier Kinder Australia, said. “Best practice dust control measures need to be implemented to ensure dust emission levels are industry-compliant and ensure the safety and health of all workers.”

Kinder said transfer point improvements are an important consideration for all conveyor belt applications. “Maximising productivity, protecting your most important assets – your people and your plant – and the effective suppression of dust emissions go hand in hand. Current dust suppression systems vary greatly in terms of cost, complexity and ease of implementation, and are highly dependent on an operation’s size, location and the surrounding environment.”

In extremely windy and dry conditions, dust is likely to escape beyond site boundaries, negatively impacting nearby eco-systems. Ongoing excessive dust emissions can damage and interfere with the functionality of conveyor components, motors and machinery.

{{image2-a:r-w:300}}Kinder Australia has a comprehensive range of effective dust suppression solutions. An investment in high performance conveyor skirting and sealing systems can help to minimise dust emissions by targeting the critical conveyor transfer points and creating an effective sealing system. The seal should be located where the material is being loaded and continue to where it becomes stable. This has the added benefits of eliminating belt tracking issues and improving conveyor reliability, performance and belt life.

Site inspections at one of Kinder Australia’s Asia-Pacific customers recently exposed major inefficiencies in the material flow. This included excessive conveyor material spillage and dust emissions between the existing skirting and the conveyor belt, due to the distance between frames. These inefficiencies resulted in frequent shutdowns and spiralling clean-up costs.

After previous installations of Kinder’s K-Sure belt support and K-Ultra dual seal systems at the manufacturing plant, maintenance teams agreed this combined conveyor belt support and skirting solution should be rolled out within the plant’s impact zone, under the chute. Two extra K-Sure belt support frames were added to reduce the gap support to 300mm solely for rail support, including a lead-on frame.

The customer has confirmed this dust and material spillage solution has exceeded its expectations. The K-Sure system has assisted the conveyor belt by absorbing the full impact of conveyed material at the transfer point. There have also been savings in clean-up costs due to a reduction in material spillage and optimal environmental dust containment.

In addition to keeping workers free from dust contamination and associated maintenance clean-up costs, Kinder’s Capotex conveyor belt covers also provide a protective barrier against the sun, wind and rain. They can contribute to airborne dust reduction and the moisture level control of conveyed materials.

Dust control also extends beyond protecting people and the environment. Conveyor components, machines, plant and equipment that are constantly exposed to dust will wear out faster than normal. Excessive dust emissions can often make maintenance and repair work more difficult and costly, resulting in lengthy, unscheduled downtime. Kinder’s K-MotorShield motor covers can protect electric drive motors, indirectly enabling them to run efficiently and preserving their wear life.

“When both material spillage containment and airborne dust is effectively suppressed and within acceptable industry standards, this can pave the way for operational improvements, continuous productivity, a safer and cleaner workplace for all workers and meeting environmental obligations,” Neil Kinder concluded.

Source: Kinder Australia

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