Keeping workers, environment safe from dust resuspension

Dust has always been a problem in the mining, quarrying, extractive and commercial industries. Whether the dust is coming from transfer points, roads, mining, quarrying or manufacturing processes it is harmful and a real health hazard for all workers.

Inhaled dust can cause serious issues, resulting in lung cancer, tuberculosis and silicosis – a permanent scarring on the lungs as a result of breathing in silica dust, which is common to quarries and mines.

There have been many solutions to the problem of dust collection from dustpan brushes to portable dust blow-off devices. Few have solved the problems associated with resuspension.

{{quote-A:R-W:300-Q:"A “personnel de-dusting” and “clothes cleaning device” that cleans a worker’s clothes after shifts within 10 to 12 seconds."}}In May this year, the Queensland Parliament’s Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP) Select Committee released a report – Black Lung, White Lies – about the incidences of black lung in Queensland’s coal mining industry.1 The committee found that coal mine workers in Queensland are permanently diagnosed with pneumoconiosis from the ages of 38 to 74, with an average age of 56.

The committee also found that in 2013, pneumoconiosis resulted in 260,000 deaths globally. Of these, 46,000 were due to silicosis, 24,000 to asbestosis and 25,000 to CWP. Most of these cases occurred in a setting of poor occupational hygiene and limited systems for dust control.

The committee concluded that while black lung is an insidious disease that develops over many years, it is also entirely preventable in today’s modern extractive industry. It made 68 recommendations to the Queensland Government about ways and means of ensuring compliance with dust mitigation.

During the inquiry, numerous coal mine workers and their families informed the committee of significant dust on their bodies and their clothing after working a shift in a mine. Not only was the workers’ health impacted, but the families were in a risky zone too.

People usually do not care about dust emissions while they do not suffer. Even when they fall sick, there is confidence they can be treated by modern medicine. The problem is researchers have found there is no proven treatment for silicosis other than lung transplantation – and there is no guarantee that lung transplantation is a solution. According to the US Lung Institute, statistics put the five-year survival rate after a lung transplant at just 50 per cent.

Thus, prevention of this disease through the control of respirable crystalline silica exposure is vital. Even the seemingly incurable black lung disease can be easily prevented.

De-dusting solution

To that end, dust control and extraction specialist Mideco has developed the Bat Booth, a “personnel de-dusting” and “clothes cleaning device” that cleans a worker’s clothes after shifts within 10 to 12 seconds.

The Bat Booth is designed to:

  • Use safe and regulated compressed air to create a curtain of air that blows dust off a worker’s contaminated clothing.

  • Contain and capture airborne dust using a dust filtering system.

Mideco is purposefully working to open up new markets with equipment that is “plug and play” for the owner. Therefore, the Bat Booth is supplied completely assembled on a skid base and once on site it is a simple case of “plug and play” for the operator – compressed air and power connections are all that is needed to be fully operational.

{{image2-a:r-w:300}}“It is perfect for mines, quarries or any commercial environment where dust contamination poses a health hazard,” Mideco’s sales manager Melton White said. “Other alternatives have proven to be risky, slow, ineffective and do not contain the dust when dislodged from clothing.”

The Bat Booth has been successfully implemented in the operational processes of several quarries in Australia. Holcim was the first company in Australia to purchase the Bat, at its Beenleigh Quarry four years ago. It was the first designed Bat Booth, without even a box, and it still works properly today. Holcim has this year purchased subsequent incarnations of the booth for its Lynwood and Petrie operations.

Since the product’s official launch in 2015, the Bat Booth has become a fixture at many Boral operations – namely, the Narangba, Petrie, Peppertree (Boral’s newest hard rock aggregate) and John’s River quarries.

White said many of Boral’s OHS specialists were interested in the functionality of the Bat Booth and its application to other dusty sites.

Going international

In 2017 the Bat Booth has also been introduced to uranium sites. BHP’s Olympic Dam project recently received two custom-designed Bat Booths made from stainless steel, with earthing and a non-typical “plug and play” power supply.

Even the grating on the floor is unusual – comprising of fibreglass replacement panels that can be cleaned by caustic soda. All these features have been especially produced for the demands of uranium mining.

Mideco has also invested significant time, effort and expense to gain international approvals, including Underwriters Laboratories (Northbrook, Illinois, USA) approval for its Enclosed Industrial Control Panel, which is the heart of the Bat Booth. A UL label means the equipment is fully compliant with US and Canadan regulations.

“The USA legislation related to dust-related diseases has become stricter in 2017,” White said.

“OHS specialists are looking for an effective solution to prevent pneumoconiosis. That is why the Bat Booth was successfully launched at the National Safety Council Congress and Expo in Indianapolis, USA, in September 2017. We are expecting the start of direct sales to US quarries and mines.”

Source: Mideco


1. Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee. Black Lung, White Lies: Inquiry into the re-identification of coal worker’s pneumoconiosis in Queensland – Report No. 2. Queensland Parliament, 2017.

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