Giving operators a breath of fresh air


A dusty cabin can cause major problems for the machine operator.

LSM Technology managing director Peter Woodford explains why his company’s QCABAIR Core Mixing Plenum provides the best dust protection in the industry.

There is a belief that enclosed cabins of fixed and mobile plants provide protection against workers’ exposure to harmful airborne particulate and fibre.

However, studies have shown that allowable personal exposure limits (PEL) inside a cabin can be far greater than the external operating environment.

Statistics and reports have revealed that respirable disease and other debilitating health effects are on the rise due to workplace exposure to airborne particulate and fibre.

LSM Technology details this in a recent technical white paper, Breathing Easy – Airborne Particulate/Fibre Exposure of Enclosed Cabins of Mobile and Fixed Plant.

It is not only related to workers in open environments but also operators in enclosed cabins of fixed and mobile plant.

LSM Technology’s QCABAIR (patent pending) Core Mixing Plenum integrates the Cabin External Air Pressuriser and Recirculation Filtration Units to create a compact system that ensures the cabin environment not only meets but exceeds Australian and international standards.

LSM Technology managing director Peter Woodford says a clean cabin and a more comfortable, healthier and safer working environment means happier operators, enhanced concentration and alertness, as well as greater productivity.

“We have come a long way in terms of cabin technology, especially when you consider that none of the earliest machines even had cabins – operators were working out in the open,” Woodford tells Safe to Work.

“Some of the earlier machines only included cabins as protection from the weather or as protection for the operator if the machine rolled over.

“With the evolution of enclosed cabins the next development was when air conditioning was installed in the cabins, but in many cases the air conditioning was bringing more dust and particles into the cabin than there would have been without it.

“That’s why we have worked to make the QCABAIR as safe and comfortable for the operator as possible.”

The QCABAIR Core Mixing Plenum makes the cabin safe and comfortable.

LSM has long been a leader in providing compliant cabin pressurisation and filtration solutions that are field tested and certified by occupational health and safety (OH&S) regulators, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy with a joint field trail/report (RESPA trial 2009) on an excavator operated at a sandstone quarry.

The company also works alongside and represents key dust mitigation technology manufacturer, Sy-Klone International.

LSM was the first dealer in the world to introduce the Sy-Klone RESPA cabin pressurisation and filtration technology to the mining, quarrying and extraction industries. It has been Sy-Klone’s master dealer for the Australasian region since 2008.

The QCABAIR Core Mixing Plenum combines the Sy-Klone RESPA units to mix the filtered external and recirculation air in a single compact mounting system.

Woodford says LSM endeavours to take advantage of the most advanced technologies available to ensure its products are innovative enough to exceed the latest Australian and international health and safety standards.

However, he adds that LSM also takes a “back to basics” approach during the design phase.

“Whilst focussing on occupational health and safety to best protect the occupants of enclosed cabins, there are other cost benefits of a reliable and complaint cabin pressuriser and filtration system that are often easily forgotten,” Woodford says.

“What LSM sets out to do is provide clean air to the machine’s cabin through the air-conditioning system without it getting choked so it doesn’t require high maintenance; filter elements last longer and by reducing failure, it avoids associated production loss.”

The QCABAIR system features a range of benefits on top of meeting and exceeding OH&S standards.

The product ensures adequate and constant airflow and ventilation (CO2 build-up) particularly for multiple occupants, it sets optimum pressurisation to 50-150 pascal and will not over-pressurise the cabin. It also uses extended length filter elements to provide less frequent filter exchange, while maximising filter service life, mixes the external and recirculation air to reduce thermal loading on the HVAC and provides better thermal comfort for the operator.

Dust can find its way into any part of a machine without protection.

Woodford says the QCABAIR Core Mixing Plenum Connection Module is made from 304 stainless steel and powder coated, reducing heat absorption in high ambient conditions, meaning it will never rust or deteriorate.

“As all the working components are contained on the QCABAIR Cabin Pressuriser / Filtration Core Mixing Plenum, then it can be easily adapted and mounted to virtually any machine,” Woodford says.

“The Core Module is light (under 25 kilograms) and can be transferred easily from one vehicle to the other and carries a three-year warranty.

“QCABAIR comes as a completed assembly as a single core module – which saves time for installation – or it can be easily provided as a DYI kit.”

Woodford says dust is one of the most common risks faced by mining employees and without the right dust mitigation solution, workers are at risk of chronic lung conditions, severely impacting their quality of life. 

“Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is found at varying levels in all dusts, especially within the mining, quarrying, construction, agriculture, cement, crushing and earthmoving industries,” Woodford says.

“However, compliance is not just about exposure to RCS but also providing protection against other harmful types of contamination such as diesel exhaust,  asbestos, nickel, alumina, coal, iron ore, pesticides and herbicides, as well as others found in many industries.

“Since 2008, LSM has been working alongside various companies and organisations to develop standards and provide solutions relating to protecting operators in enclosed cabins from dangerous dust particulate and fibre materials, which also protects their customers equipment.” 

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