For decades it's well known the inhalation of minute crystalline particles of silica by workers can cause irreversible damage to the workers’ health and well-being.
“Cutting or drilling and extraction of rock, crushing & screening, working near conveyors, particularly transfer points” are some of the activities that generate excessive airborne dust, “both surface mine/quarry workers and underground miners can be exposed to crystalline silica”, according to NSW Resources Regulator.
Australian workers’ acceptable exposure level to silica dust is currently four times higher than the international standard. (Source: Rachel Mealey on PM, ABC). With figures in this vicinity, diseases such as silicosis will continue to plague the mining and quarrying industry in the ensuing years.
“Australia is in the grips of a silicosis epidemic, potentially representing the biggest lung disease crisis since asbestosis. Silicosis is a preventable lung disease experienced by workers due to exposure to silica dust. A significant number of workers have also been diagnosed with a rapidly progressive form of this disease, progressive massive fibrosis (PMF), according to the RACP”. (Source: Mining Safe to Work)
According to Work Safe Victoria, “the Australian exposure standard for airborne crystalline silica is 0.1mg/m3 over an 8-hour day, this limit is based on preventing silicosis and lung cancer”. “With these figures, the spotlight on effective dust control is more important than ever”, says Neil Kinder, CEO, Kinder Australia.
“The nature of today’s bulk materials handling operations produces dust and plenty of it, best practice dust control measures need to be implemented to ensure dust emission levels are industry standard compliant and which ensures the safety and health of all workers”, explains Kinder.
Conveyor transfer point improvements are also an important consideration for all conveyor belt applications. Kinder elaborates on “maximizing productivity, protecting your most important assets (your people and plant) and the effective suppression of dust emissions go hand in hand. Current dust suppression systems available vary greatly in terms of costs, complexity, and ease of implementation and are highly dependent on the operations size, location and the surrounding environment”.
Under extreme windy and dry conditions, there is also the likelihood of dust escaping and going beyond site boundaries, negatively impacting ecosystems. Ongoing excessive dust emission has the potential to damage and interfere with the correct functionality of conveyor componentry, also becoming hazardous to motors and machinery.
Dust Emissions Case Study
Site inspections at our Asian Pacific customer exposed major inefficiencies in material flow as well as excessive conveyor material spillage and dust emissions between existing skirting & conveyor belt, due to the distance between frames. These inefficiencies resulted in frequent shutdowns and spiraling clean-up costs necessitating the recruitment of an external cleaning contractor to manage material spillage minimizing environmental and potential safety hazards from the dust emissions.
After two previous faultless installations of K-Sure® Belt Support System and K-Ultra Dual® Seal at the manufacturing plant, maintenance teams agreed this combined conveyor belt support and skirting solution be rolled out within the plant’s impact zone, under the chute. Two extra K-Sure® Belt Support frames were introduced to reduce gap support to 300mm solely for rail support, including a lead on the frame.
The plant has confirmed the dust and material spillage solution has exceeded all initial expectations with K- Sure® Belt Support System installation effectively supporting the conveyor belt by absorbing the full impact of conveyed material at the transfer point. Other positive outcomes include significant clean-up costs savings due to a reduction in material spillage and optimal environmental dust containment.
Kinder has a comprehensive range of effective dust suppression solutions, investment in high-performance conveyor skirting and sealing systems can help to minimize dust emissions, particularly targeting the critical conveyor transfer point and creating an effective sealing system. The seal should be located where the material is being loaded and continue to where it becomes stable. This has added the benefits of eliminating belt tracking issues as well as improve conveyor reliability, performance and belt life.
Conveyor belt covers can also provide a protective barrier against the damaging environmental elements of sun, wind & rain as well as keeping workers free from dust contamination and associated maintenance clean- up costs. Airborne dust reduction and moisture level control of conveyed materials are just some of the other benefits delivered by Kinder’s range of Capotex Conveyor Belt Covers.
Dust control goes far beyond protecting people and the environment. Conveyor components, machines, plant, and equipment constantly exposed to dust will ultimately wear out faster than normal. Excessive dust emissions can also make maintenance and repair work more difficult and costlier, often resulting in lengthy, unscheduled production downtime. Installing Kinder K-MotorShield Motor Covers will ensure electric drive motors are kept running efficiently and have a longer wear life.
“When both material spillage containment and airborne dust is effectively suppressed and within acceptable industry standards, this can pave the way to operational improvements, continuous productivity, a safer and cleaner workplace for all workers and meeting our environmental obligations”, concludes Kinder.
Kinder Australia creates real measurable productivity gains through engineered operational improvements to existing transfer points, material flow and conveyor systems. In the bulk materials handling industry, Kinder Australia has developed over time the excellent reputation and proven history of providing a comprehensive range of beyond expectation, ...