OH&S News

Managing your assets against dust

It was recently reported in the US that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced plans to update its 40-year old standards, with aims to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica that can come from granite, limestone and other aggregates.

Exposure to the tiny particles (each one is about 100 times smaller than a grain of sand) can cause silicosis, an incurable and progressive disease.

Inhaling the particles can also lead to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease.

Workers at risk of exposure to silica are those involved in cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing concrete, brick, block and other stone products and in operations using sand products, such as glass manufacturing, foundries and sand blasting (according to the OSHA).

Coincidentally, amid growing community concerns over the potential health impacts of dust generated by mining activities, the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority has launched the next stage of its dust management agenda.

The Dust Stop program enforces new standards on dust control, aiming to achieve an 80 per cent dust reduction by August 2014.

Now in its third stage of implementation, the program requires all 30 of NSW’s open cut coal mines to assess their dust control plans. Loading, dumping and moving overburden is also a major source of dust emissions at coal mines.

In windy and dry conditions dust is more likely to leave quarry and mine sites, so tighter control is needed at these times. Quarries and mines may find they need to change their operating practices to meet these new standards.

Kinder & Co has a range of dust suppression products, including:

  • The K-Snap-Loc dust seal system.
  • K-Sure belt support.
  • K-Fold-N-Seal skirting seal.
  • K-Skirting seal.
  • K-Dust enclosure components.
  • K-MotorShield motor covers.
  • Conveyor hoods and covers.

The K-MotorShield covers are particularly important in protecting your assets against dust. Environmental debris and particles can quickly destroy bearings, windings and brushes on expensive electric motors and add considerable expense to service, maintenance and repair bills. But there is a misconception that by covering the motor, it will overheat.

Kinder & Co founder and chief executive officer Neil Kinder explained that “maintaining a clean operating environment seems the most obvious answer to optimising motor performance.

However, it is not always possible to keep electric motor drives dust-free, as the nature of many bulk materials tasks and conveyor systems mean spillage and debris is virtually inevitable.

“Most motors under crushers and pumps can be very large and weigh between 150 and 200 kilograms. How then do you get that out, aside from resorting to winches? It becomes a big issue to get the dust out.

"Take, for instance, a belt conveyor high in the air; the wind may blow some of the dust off the motor but dust underneath gets into very confined and hard to reach places. Any kind of spillage can easily block the motors.

“Dust is hazardous to machinery, particularly electric motors. It leads to more maintenance; it involves pulling motors out and it’s not just the cost of replacing the motor. Motors are not that expensive. The expense is in the labour.

"You need a fitter and an operator. One fitter can’t work by himself – there also has to be someone who can manage the paperwork to do all the tag outs. You also need an electrician on-site to assist the fitter. So, the bottom line is, if you maintain your machinery properly and protect it from dust exposure, you won’t have the motor problem.”

Kinder & Co’s K-MotorShield motor covers are simple to install. They are made of fibreglass and are therefore very lightweight and easy to manoeuvre. But, most importantly, they do the job intended – they keep motors debris-free and stop them from overheating.

Source: Kinder & Co

1. Smith DR, Leggat PA. 24 years of pneumoconiosis mortality surveillance in Australia. Journal of Occupational Health 2006; 48 (5): 309-313.
2. Aggregates Manager, 10 September 2013.


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