Using Realtime Monitoring to Control Dust Exposure

The Challenge

GCG’s Occupational Hygiene Consultants perform monthly personal monitoring across an open-cut operation to assess workforce exposure to dust. Seeking to further reduce worker exposures to respirable dust, our client wanted to investigate specific task-based exposures. While traditional exposure monitoring is reliable for full shift monitoring, it has limitations in assessing specific tasks. As a result, the client wanted to understand a worker’s risk of exposure to dust while buffing heavy vehicle tyre rims.

 

The Solution

To assess this task specifically, GCG’s Occupational Hygienists utilised real-time monitoring to provide more detailed analysis of the levels of dust when workers conduct specific tasks.

Real-time monitoring devices are available that can log results every second for improved visibility on respirable dust exposures. It’s important to note however, that these instruments don’t comply with regulatory requirements for exposure monitoring. Therefore, these results are considered indicative.

When real-time monitoring data is coupled with video footage of the task, our Occupational Hygiene Consultants are able to analyse the effectiveness of dust controls as the task is undertaken. This is referred to as Video Exposure Monitoring (VEM).

Our Occupational Hygiene Consultants asked workers to complete the same task while using a variety of different controls to assess their effectiveness at reducing dust exposure to the worker.

After the measurements were taken, the real-time monitoring data and video footage were merged using GCG’s Real-time Monitoring App. This unique innovation provides our consultants with a simple system to prioritise task assessments based on risk, analyse the data and generate reports for our clients.

Clients can also be given access to GCG’s Real-time Monitoring App in order to view the results. Alternatively, the VEMs can be accessed with the click of a password protected link in their web browser, removing the need to send large video files or store data on devices such as USBs.

See below the combined video exposure monitoring (VEM) output:

The Outcome

Following analysis of the results, we were able to visualise exposures and confirm the effectiveness of various controls. A prewash and ongoing water suppression method was found to be an effective control to reduce worker dust exposure during this task.

The ability to undertake real-time monitoring coupled with the use of video footage is powerful and action provoking. Using GCG’s Real-time Monitoring App, our Occupational Hygiene Consultants can swiftly review controls in a visual and compelling way. As an added benefit, workers are much more engaged using this task assessment approach as it’s possible for them to see the effect of controls in real time.

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