Managing cabin dust: New standard outlines steps to improve health

With International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 23875 expected to be published in early 2021, Safe to Work provides a first look at the new standard with insight from the ISO working group chairperson Jeff Moredock.

Workplace exposure to airborne dust is a critical issue for Australian mine sites. Exposure to asbestos, silica, coal and other respirable dust can increase occurrences of chronic lower lung diseases.

In addition to occupational health and safety (OH&S) factors, dust and debris can increase mining companies’ heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) maintenance costs due to accumulation on evaporator cores, degrading performance.

To address these issues and the challenge of navigating multiple regional standards, ISO convened TC-82 Mining Working Group 9 to assess air quality system requirements in the mining industry.

TC-82 Mining Working Group 9 drafted a new international standard outlining air quality engineering and performance requirements, ISO/DIS 23875: “Operator enclosures – Air quality control systems and air quality performance testing”, expected to be published in early 2021.

ISO 23875 creates a consistent and international approach to designing, testing, operating and maintaining air quality in operator enclosures in the mining industry.

Working group chair and Sy-Klone International executive vice president Jeff Moredock was recruited following his involvement in the International Society of Environmental Enclosure Engineers (ISEEE), which focusses on operator enclosure air quality and standards development.

“It was exciting to see the global body of knowledge around operator enclosure engineering and performance testing come together in such a powerful way,” Moredock tells Safe to Work. “When adopted, this standard will make a huge difference in operator health and safety.

“The working group brought in stakeholders from over 10 countries to ensure we captured feedback and created a standard with global buy-in to guide the design and testing of air quality control systems.

“Bringing mining companies, OH&S officers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) together resulted in a collectively beneficial and uniform standard that would help protect operator health and facilitate increased trade around the world.”

ISO 23875 differs from past standards because it is a lifecycle standard, addressing cabin air control systems from the time of design, to when the equipment arrives onsite and throughout its operating life. ISO 23875 outlines specific engineering and ongoing testing to ensure compliance.

Sy-Klone International is well-positioned to help mining companies meet ISO 23875 requirements. As Sy-Klone vice president of marketing and business development Austin Browne explains, Sy-Klone helps Australian mining companies address dangerous respirable dust with its advanced heavy equipment cabin air quality systems.

“With over 30 years of experience and over 100 patents and trademarks in air filtration and precleaning, Sy-Klone is the world’s leader in heavy equipment air quality and control systems,” Browne says.

“Sy-Klone has an extensive global reach, working in the world’s most extreme environments. Sy-Klone’s leadership in air filtration and cabin precleaning has been recognised internationally, including via a recent award from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the development of a smart cab operating system that blends internet-of-things-enabled sensor capabilities with Sy-Klone’s state-of-the-art technology in air quality systems.”

Sy-Klone’s RESPA system keeps dust and debris outside of operator cabins, allowing workers to breathe easy and stay safe on the job. The RESPA system includes a precleaner, pressuriser, high-efficiency filtration and an in-cabin monitoring system.

“Sy-Klone’s HEPA filters outperform the competition, delivering a higher filter efficiency, while maintaining needed airflow levels,” Browne explains.

“The Sy-Klone HEPA filter is 99.991 per cent efficient at 0.3 microns versus other HEPA filters evaluated at 99.97 per cent at 0.3 microns. This difference is meaningful. Sy-Klone’s filter can stop much smaller particles and prevent additional dust from reaching the operator cabin.”

United States-headquartered Sy-Klone has a team of Australian-based partners with in-depth expertise of the Australian mining industry: LSM Technologies and Lyons Airconditioning Services.

LSM chief executive and managing director Peter Woodford shares that with over 40 years of experience, his company, a Sy-Klone master dealer, has influenced Australia’s air quality knowledge, including by partnering with the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy to write a case study on occupational hygiene monitoring for airborne particulate matter.

“We have worked with mining companies across Australia to shape our country’s understanding and approach to air quality, installing Sy-Klone solutions that deliver cleaner air for machine operators,” Woodford says.

Lyons Airconditioning Services general manager Emmanuel Lardis adds that with 35 years’ experience in providing HVAC solutions to the Australian market, his team are Sy-Klone RESPA installation experts.

“My team has witnessed an increased demand for air filtration and air quality systems,” he says. “We have become experts in helping mining companies address the toughest dust issues through Sy-Klone RESPA installations.”

Former Rio Tinto chief advisor for industrial hygiene, Liam Wilson, was one of several hygienists who provided input to the working group on the new standard.

“The working group was active in trialling the standard in field applications to ensure it was written in a way that can be practically applied for either OEMs or operators,” Wilson explains.

Wilson shares how Sy-Klone’s products will help companies address the updated standard and control dust in operator enclosures in a better way.

“Sy-Klone is very proactive and continually evolves their technologies to effectively manage dust exposure inside operator cabins,” Wilson says.

To ensure an Australian perspective was captured, the working group engaged the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT) and the Minerals Council of Australia to discuss future equipment design to meet the standard in Australia.

Aside from not wanting workers to become ill, mining companies are liable for insurance costs or workers’ compensation, so improved worker health offers both intrinsic value and cost avoidance potential.

“Prevention is better, and if a business can effectively manage and reduce dust, it’s stopping people from getting hurt at work and eliminating long-term costs to the business as well,” Wilson concludes.

This article also appears in the Nov-Dec issue of Safe to Work.

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