Mining Publication: Improving Silica Dust Controls for Metal/Nonmetal Mining Operations in the United States
Researchers at the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL) of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) work to reduce respirable dust exposures in mining operations. One focus of this research is silica dust control for surface and underground operations in the metal/nonmetal mining industry. PRL researchers analyze dust sampling results from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to identify high-risk occupations to guide research efforts. Research is then conducted in an effort to improve existing technologies and/or develop new controls for reducing worker exposure to airborne silica dust. During the last few years, PRL researchers have conducted research related to the following goals: improving protection provided by enclosed cabs on mobile surface mining equipment, reducing dust generation from surface drills, reducing dust levels in iron ore operations, and developing a new method to clean dust from workers' soiled clothes. A description of each of these controls and subsequent dust reductions quantified through site surveys is provided.