During a recent National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health field evaluation of a newly designed filtration and pressurization system for an enclosed cab of a surface drill, it was determined that the drill operator's respirable-dust exposure was significantly increased during time periods when the cab door was opened to manually guide another section of drill steel into place to achieve additional cutting depth. Although no dust cloud was visible when the door was opened to perform this task, the drill operator's exposure was documented (over a three-day test period) to be nine times higher than when the cab door was closed. Even at this higher respirable-dust concentration, the drill operator's exposure remained well below the permissible exposure limit governed by the federal dust standard; however, an alternative method is being investigated to guide the drill steel in place in order to eliminate this increased exposure.
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