Mining Publication: Evaluation of the Wet Head Continuous Miner to Reduce Respirable Dust
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted field tests to evaluate the effectiveness of a wet head continuous mining machine for reducing dust exposure for continuous miner operators. Wet head technology delivers water via sprays to the continuous miner's cutter head as opposed to traditional standard sprays located on the boom and body of the mining machine. The sprays, positioned directly behind each bit on the cutter head, deliver water at the point of attack, serving to cool the bits during mining to reduce the potential for frictional ignitions. The sprays also flood the coal with water to potentially suppress dust generation. Dust surveys were conducted at several mines to evaluate the wet head's effectiveness to control respirable dust exposure at the continuous miner operator location and in the immediate return. Results show that the wet head miner improved air quality at both locations to varying degrees in some cases and not in others when compared to a continuous miner with a standard spray system.