Hunter Valley Operations: 
Using Real-Time Monitoring to Control Dust Exposure

The Challenge

Hunter Valley Operations (HVO), a joint venture between Yancoal and Glencore, was seeking to understand the exposure risk to a tyre fitter while buffing heavy vehicle tyre rims. With help from GCG’s real-time monitoring application, HVO was able to quickly identify exposures, test controls and implement an appropriate solution resulting in a smarter and faster control decision.

GCG’s occupational hygiene consultants perform monthly personal monitoring to assess workforce exposure to dust across HVO. In an effort to further reduce exposures to respirable dust, HVO wished to investigate the exposure risk for workers undertaking specific tasks. In this instance, HVO was seeking to understand the exposure risk to a tyre fitter while buffing heavy vehicle tyre rims.

While gravimetric dust sampling methods are accurate and reliable for full shift monitoring, they yield only a single average result over an entire shift. Unfortunately, this means that traditional gravimetric monitoring does not provide the insight needed to determine what’s occurring during a particular task, such as when a worker is buffing vehicle tyre rims for less than 10 minutes at a time.

The Solution

GCG’s Real-Time Monitoring Application (RTM App)

To assess this task, GCG’s occupational hygienists used our Real-Time Monitoring Application (RTM App). The RTM App is task-based dust monitoring technology that combines on-person real-time task video capture with advanced analytics and dashboard reporting for better exposure controls management.

Our occupational hygiene consultants asked the tyre fitters to complete the same task while using a variety of different controls to assess the effectiveness of each at reducing dust exposure to the worker. Workers were fitted with on-person real-time monitoring devices (which can log results every second) coupled with video footage of the task. This is referred to as video exposure monitoring (VEM).

After measurements were taken, the real-time monitoring data and video footage were merged using GCG’s RTM App. This solution allows our occupational hygiene consultants to analyse the effectiveness of dust controls as the task is undertaken.

GCG’s RTM App is a unique innovation that provides our consultants with a simple system to prioritise task assessments based on risk, analyse the data and generate reports. Clients can also be given access to the App in order to view the results. Alternatively, the VEMs can be accessed with the click of a password protected link via your 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

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

The RTM App allowed HVO to conduct a deeper analysis of potential worker exposure to respirable dust when undertaking a specific task, allowing for task specific dust controls to be implemented and resulting in less exposure for the workforce.

The ability to undertake real-time monitoring coupled with the use of video footage is powerful and action provoking. The RTM App enables our occupational hygiene consultants to swiftly review controls in a visual and compelling way.

As an added benefit, workers are much more engaged using this task assessment approach as they can visualise exposures and see the effect of controls in real time. Sharing video exposure assessments within a business also results in greater adoption of dust controls.

This case study supported our submission to the 2022 Hunter Valley Safety Awards in which the RTM App won the Most Innovative WHS Idea (SME) category (sponsored by 3M).

Case Study Highlights

  • Exposure caused by a specific task was identified and visualised. A task not possible with traditional dust monitoring methods.
  • Potential dust control measures were rapidly tested, and an effective exposure control method was implemented with confidence and speed.
  • Workforce exposure to respirable dust was reduced.

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