|Reducing exposure to dust when road planing
NRP had limited data available on silica levels when planing out existing concrete carriageways. It decided to undertake a series of operational tests to identify the silica levels, evaluate the best machinery and PPE to minimize these levels and what training would be most effective.
The initial trials used both a standard 2m planer and a 2m planer fitted with a dust extraction system. As expected the machine with the dust extraction performed better but it was decided to enhance the machine by adding water suppression. However, operator exposure to silica on both machines were in excess of the maximum limits.
Working with Vibrock, the dust mask and extractor providers, it was determined that either a full face fit mask or personal dust extract system would be required. These were trialed with 2 crews. The operators were consulted about the process and the results were reviewed with all involved. Problems were found with the face fit when people failed to shave and the work period exceeded 1 hour. The personal dust extraction system was found to be ideal. The recommendations were presented to the employee forum and Safety committee
Several types of air fed units and full fit masks were then trialed with gangs that had not been involved with the initial trials. Feedback was obtained and resulted in two types of air flow units being preferred and a single face fit mask. These were then made available to every gang based on personal preference. They were further modified to incorporate two way communication backs.
• Exposure to dust significantly reduced
• Effectiveness of PPE confirmed
• Information shared with all Lafarge Tarmac planer crews
• System adopted as industry standard by Federation of Planing Contractors
• A healthier and safety work environment.