Occupational exposure limit changes for respirable dusts

May 21, 2019 JOHN NINNESS

Safe Work Australia, the Australian policy body responsible for workplace health and safety, is expected to recommend to state-based regulators that the regulated occupational exposure limits (OEL) for respirable dust is halved in the near future.

The new changes will see occupational exposure limits reduced from 1.0 mg/m3 to 0.5 mg/m3 for silica dust and from 3.0 mg/m3 to 1.5 mg/m3 for other types of mineral dust.

Managing compliance with the new occupational exposure limits may initially be challenging for some companies particularly those across the mining sector. However, by implementing a range of effective strategies delivered around expert dust analysis, advice and auditing, mechanical and chemical solutions, mining operators should see compliance improve and occupational exposures minimised.

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An Australian company is providing solutions to minimise occupational exposure to dust

Australian company, Reynolds Soil Technologies (RST) has been assisting companies to comply with current and incoming legal limits for respirable dust, including toxic silica dust for three decades.

RST Operations and Technical Director David Handel said solving dust-related issues over the past thirty years had been challenging, but the company was achieving positive outcomes for clients by dramatically reducing respirable dust emissions in the workplace.

“We are seeing an increase in demand for our dust control formulas that reduce overall dust emission levels,” he said.

“Fine particulate of varying material types in a dry state creates numerous health, environmental and operational challenges for our clients.”

controlling dust at the source to ensure occupational exposure limits are not exceeded

Mr Handel said the company’s services include expert dust analysis, advice and auditing, and mechanical and chemical solutions to reduce the dust levels to ensure a company remains compliant.

“We have been able to develop dust suppressants that are super concentrated and highly effective through ongoing research and development, with continual improvement programs and strategic alliances providing RST with the data to develop leading-edge solutions,” he said.

“It is about finding the best solution that is cost effective and achieves immediate and long-term results.

“By utilising our speciality product range, companies in the fields of mining, stone cutting, quarrying, blasting, road and building construction and farming are able to treat and control their individual dust issues.

“These solutions are extremely effective in controlling the dust levels, providing the methods for a site operator to be in control of compliance with the new regulations.

“The first step for us is to fully assess and evaluate a problem and from there we recommend, design and implement a solution that suits a site’s specific needs to keep them operating within development consent requirements.”

Range of suppression methods available

RST has developed a range of suppression methods, products and services to specifically treat dust levels across a company’s total operation, including storage, processing, and transfer and transport operations.

The company also specialises in crusting agents that coat fine particles to prevent them from being blown or washed away. It also utilises foaming formulas that suppress dust at transfer points and crushing operations. A range of water additives, which bind fine particles and stabilise the materials being mined are also supplied by RST.

Applied by automated spray and dispensing systems, RST’s range of solutions prevent dust from becoming airborne by either tightly binding and suppressing the ultra-fine particles or capturing and engulfing fine particles in a ‘total dust blanket’ effect. This helps companies keep exposure below occupational exposure limits.

Dust suppression technologies used globally

Mining and quarrying companies and port operations around the world are using RST’s suite of solutions because of their ease of application, effectiveness and value.

RST’s range of products are formulated using the latest technologies in organic and inorganic polymers that alter the characteristics of water to electrostatically attract and capture smaller dust particles at a considerably faster rate than water alone.

The spin-off benefits from using RST solutions include major reductions in water consumption, erosion mitigation and decreased operational costs.

RST specialises in solving a company’s specific dust, erosion and sediment problems, where no one else can, with experts assessing and auditing a site to gain a thorough understanding of the challenges to delivering smart, simple and cost-effective solutions.

RST is an Australian business operating internationally in the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Timor, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Africa, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Mongolia, Lithuania and the United Arab Emirates.

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