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Tackling dust resuspension on workers? clothing

One point that is often overlooked, or dealt with poorly, is harmful dust particles once they have landed on clothing.

Miriam Byrne, a physicist from the University of Ireland in Galway, Republic of Ireland, who specialises in dust particulates, demonstrated the dangers of dust clothing resuspension in a 2013 article in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity.1 Byrne, along with her colleague Ann McDonagh, found that on average 67 per cent of dust on a person’s clothing will resuspend itself into the air during physical activity, allowing this dust to be inhaled.

This dust, when inhaled, can have serious issues for workers’ health, from lung cancers to tuberculosis. One prevalent disease in the quarrying and extractive industry is silicosis, which is a permanent scarring on the lungs as a result of breathing in silica dust, a common dust in quarries and mines.

Preventable silicosis alone caused 46,000 deaths worldwide in 2013.

There have been many solutions to the problem of dust across the years. There are plenty of dustpan brushes around our country in front of lunch rooms for workers, a solution as impractical as it is ineffective.

More technical solutions often involve the use of compressed air devices, both wall-mounted and portable dust blow-offs, but these still don’t solve the problems associated with resuspension. Research in the United States by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety found a stand-alone cleaning booth, which blows dust off a worker then exhausts it outside the plant and into the atmosphere, solved this issue. Even though it was initially considered impractical, as it required ducting that in turn required more power to create the airflow, the idea behind a booth was effective.

{{image2-a:r-w:200}}Mideco, an Australian company, believes it has the definitive solution to the problem. The Bat Booth, a stand-alone personnel dust booth, can be placed anywhere on a worksite that has access to compressed air and power. A 12-second process blows the dust off the worker and then sucks it through the floor, leaving a worker with up to 10 times less carcinogens than a dusty worker, and up to 50 per cent less than when using other methods.

The Holcim quarry site at Oaklands Junction, near Melbourne Airport, recently had a Bat Booth installed.

Daniel Wong, the maintenance manager at Oaklands Junction, described it as a great success.

“The unit has run reliably since it was installed and performs very well in removing loose dust attached to a person’s clothing, which in turn has minimised any carryover of unwanted dust into lunchrooms, personal vehicles and then back to their homes and families,” Wong said.

Peter Osborne, the production adviser for Yarwun Operations Aluminium, another Mideco customer, received similar feedback from his workforce, stating the Bat Booth was very good and removed dust extremely well.

Bat Booths are available for both rent and purchase. More information can be found under a simple Google search for “Bat Booth”.

Source: Mideco

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