Mining involves obtaining a variety of materials that cannot be grown through agricultural processes or created in a factory. These metal and mineral reserves are located and extracted from the earth, all over the world. The valuable materials often form a mineralised package and frequently include metals, gemstones, rocks, salt, gravel and clay. Metals and minerals are mined for profit and then processed into jewellery, investments and industrial applications.
The mining of stones and precious metals goes as far back as pre-historic times. Nowadays, typical activities within the sector include production, trading and investment. Mineral mining is also used heavily in industry and mining tends to increase based on economic demand. Diamonds for example are a hugely popular mineral to be mined for the jewellery industry but are also produced for industrial use – however, they tend to be manufactured artificially for this. As diamonds are one of the strongest and hardest minerals available they are often synthetically manufactured to be used as strong abrasives and cutting and polishing tools, as well as semiconductors, keeping the costs lower than diamond mining.
As safety in the workplace continues to be a real concern, modern practices as well as improved standards and procedures, have helped to improve the safety in mines.
However, when it comes to dust generation, most mining and mineral processing involves the accumulation of high volumes of abrasive dust particles, which can be problematic for both workers and the tools that they use. Common processes involved include drilling, blasting, excavating, crushing, grinding and cutting, which can all create excess airborne dust.
Without effective dust control in place, equipment (leading to increased maintenance issues), the environment and the employees could all be at risk.
Mineral processing is a special method that involves the separation of metals or minerals from the waste material. This is achieved by shaking or washing the material in order to remove the sand or gravel before the next stage where the rock is crushed prior to extraction.
The breaking down process of these rocks creates vast amounts of mineral dust and vegetable dusts are produced by a variety of drying processes. Vegetable dusts which include rice, tea and other grain dusts, can cause a variety of lung conditions such as chronic airways obstruction and bronchitis.
Material handling methods involved within the mineral and mining sectors, such as transferring the product and loading or emptying containers, also causes large amounts of dust. In fact, any air movements revolving around granular material including loading, transporting, cutting, bagging and cleaning will disperse dust and that is why it is imperative to have dust control measures in place.
The processing of rock and mineral products can be particularly hazardous during the many extractions and general processing involved, as the dust which is created can become airborne. If dust clouds are present in the air, it can be a clear sign that potentially hazardous dust volumes are present.
The main culprits in a dusty and dangerous work environment include:
Mining workers in particular can be exposed to dust particles that differ in chemical composition, such as lead, cadmium and arsenic, crystalline silica and asbestos.
The now improved implementation of controls should help to reduce workers’ exposure to dust and subsequently reduce if not eliminate related occupational diseases within the mining industry. However, there is always room for improvement.
When it comes to removing dust, in contrast to using compressed air, which can be very dangerous, blower-driven air has been shown to provide a safe and highly effective means of removing fibres, dust and water from people, surfaces and environments.
By using blower-driven air, the JetBlack Safety range of personnel Cleaning Stations and Cleaning Booths can provide a safe and convenient solution for personnel clean-down. What’s more, the full product range has been designed as an easy-to-use alternative to compressed air, as the low pressure, high velocity air produced poses no threat to safety and can be directed at almost any part of the body. This gives organisations peace of mind and users a completely safe solution for all de-dusting operations.
The JetBlack Safety Cleaning Station is available in both Wall-mounted and Portable options for complete flexibility and is fully OSHA compliant.
The JetBlack Safety Cleaning Booth is particularly suited to agitating and removing metal particles and dust from employees’ work clothes without the operator having to remove any clothing or PPE equipment – a process which typically takes no longer than 20 seconds. The dust is then safely extracted away from the user and collected in the HEPA H14 extractor.
Personnel Cleaning Station and Cleaning Booth applications include: