Following the merger of Anglo American’s Tarmac UK and Lafarge in 2013, a new approach to quarry de-dusting was required to comply with the combined entity’s new corporate health and safety procedures.
Determined to ensure that potentially harmful dust did not transfer into areas where members of staff removed respiratory protective equipment, including site control rooms and offices, Tarmac sought an entirely new solution to de-dusting.
Initially, industrial vacuums were seen as a possible answer, but no effective solution could be found. It was at this point that ACI was approached to develop a bespoke JetBlack Safety solution.
Having used its low-pressure air cleaning stations at sites in the UK, JetBlack Safety’s ability to remove dust had been proven. However, to meet Tarmac’s new requirements, which included certainty that all staff entering dust-free zones were clear of dust, ACI was set the task of creating an entirely new, failsafe solution.
Working closely with Tarmac’s on-site management team at Mountsorrel Quarry in Loughborough (one of the largest granite quarries in Europe) ACI’s team designed a trial booth through which all staff would need to pass before entering the control room building.
Consisting of a hand-held JetBlack Safety cleaning station and dust extraction unit, the booth was installed at the entrance, ensuring that all staff wishing to enter would need to de-dust before being able to access the offices.
Despite delivering to the brief and being successfully operated on-site for over 5 years, both ACI and Tarmac identified that a hands-free solution, where staff would be automatically dedusted in a walkthrough booth, would ensure even greater consistency of cleanliness.
Once again, the team from ACI took on the challenge, and in May 2019 a new walk-through solution, built to meet all Tarmac’s needs, was installed and commissioned, forming the entrance to the building itself.
Using a series of nozzles blowing high volume, low-pressure air, dust is automatically removed from clothing and PPE, with dust particles as small as 0.3-micron being safely extracted and captured by a H14 HEPA extraction system as soon as the doors are opened. These particles are collected for safe removal and disposal.
Operating an automatic clean down when not in use, the automated JetBlack Safety booth extracts any airborne dust that may be disturbed when the user exits the booth, preventing escape into the wider environment when the doors are opened.
Now, any member of staff wishing to enter the building first has to pass through the JetBlack Safety booth, ensuring effective dedusting before removal of respiratory protection.
This enables Tarmac to not only comply with HSE guidelines on dust control plans and procedures but also protects staff from the danger of dust exposure that could lead to life-threatening illnesses, including lung cancer, silicosis and lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis.
“We’ve been working with ACI for over seven years to help protect our staff from respirable crystalline silica dust produced on-site during the crushing of granite,” says Mathew Schlemmer, Processing Plant Manager at Tarmac’s Mountsorrel Quarry.
“Four booths provide de-dusting facilities, which are situated in the maintenance area, the quarry, our asphalt processing area and at the entrance to the control room.
“Throughout, our key focus has been to ensure that our staff are dust-free when they move into areas where they can remove PPE. Using JetBlack Safety’s range of low-pressure blower and dust capture booths we are able to protect our team from fine particles that have the potential to cause serious lung disease.
“Out on the main site, we utilise JetBlack Safety’s manual hand-held blower and dust collection booths, but at our main control room, we’ve installed the automated walk-through booth at the entrance, which ensures that staff always de-dust before accessing the building.
“Starting automatically, as soon as the door to the booth closes, our staff simply need to walk in, set the blower height, rotate, and in under a minute they can exit, safe in the knowledge that their PPE and workwear is clean of all dust. This ensures that whenever they leave the site, my team has a very low chance of carrying home harmful dust that could affect them and members of their family.
“For us, this was vital, as it is a failsafe solution that prevents colleagues from accidentally bringing dust into communal areas, which could affect the health of others.
“Working together, we’ve created a bespoke solution, which we continue to evolve with the ACI team to meet our very particular needs.
“We’ve been really impressed with the booths and with the JetBlack Safety team who’ve tailored a fantastic solution for us. It’s been so effective that we fully expect other Tarmac sites to adopt similar measures, where dust presents a potential hazard to staff.”