Control of Asbestos, Gas and Vapor Exposures
Read the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) report about how to control exposure to asbestos, gases and vapors in mines.
Ventilation is the major engineering control for toxic gases and vapors in mining. Ventilation methods include local exhaust, general mechanical and natural draft.
Natural draft ventilation alone is not considered a control method in closed or semi-closed areas such as shops or underground mines. Ventilation controls the contaminant concentration by either diluting it or by removing it from the workplace air.
Other methods of controlling miner exposure to a toxic gas are those which isolate the miner, such as in an environmentally controlled booth or cab, and those which prevent the contaminant from being released into the environment.
These are also considered engineering controls. The latter method is preferred over ventilation controls.
Some examples of controlling toxic gases or vapors prior to release into the environment are the catalytic converters on diesel equipment, the scrubbing systems on coal-fired furnaces, and activated charcoal filters for removing organic contaminants.
Administrative controls are those which involve changes in miner or production schedules or procedures to reduce miner exposure to a contaminant. Administrative controls may or may not change the contaminant level in the ambient environment.
Some examples of administrative controls would be rotating miners so that each spends some time in the control booth and requiring that all blasting be done at the end of the workday.
Personal protective equipment (PPE), primarily respiratory protection, is appropriate while engineering controls are being installed, if the hazard can't be controlled any other way, or additional protection is required.
Like administrative controls, PPE does not remove the hazard from the work area. Furthermore, respirators are often uncomfortable and may make it difficult for miners to breathe or communicate.
Courtesy of MSHA
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