Mining Publication: Reducing Enclosed Cab Drill Operator's Respirable Dust Exposure with Effective Filtration and Pressurization Techniques
Many different types of surface mining equipment use enclosed cabs to protect equipment operators from health and safety hazards. The overburden removal and mining process can be extremely dusty and can cause excessive dust exposure. To study this issue, a cooperative research effort was established between the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Silica Co., Clean Air Filter Co., and Red Dot Corp. in an effort to lower respirable dust levels in an enclosed cab on an older surface drill at a silica sand operation. Throughout this research effort, a number of modifications were incorporated into the drill's filtration and pressurization system, as well as in other areas, to improve its design and performance. An average cab efficiency of 93.4% was determined with the gravimetric sampling instruments when comparing the outside with the inside cab dust levels on the final design. Although this study considered just one operation, the goal was to identify cost-effective improvements that could be implemented on all types of enclosed cabs to lower respirable dust concentrations. Two critical components for an effective enclosed cab system are having a properly designed, installed, and maintained filtration and pressurization system, along with a method for maintaining structural cab integrity, which allows the cab to be positively pressurized. Another important component is maintaining cab cleanliness. Although this research was originally directed toward the mining industry, it is also applicable to agricultural or construction equipment.