Sunday 22nd Sep, 2019

Kinder dust suppression to tackle silica emissions

Inhalation of silica dust can be deadly, which is why bulk handling equipment manufacturer Kinder is focused on reducing workplace dust

Inhalation of silica dust can be deadly, which is why bulk handling equipment manufacturer Kinder is focused on reducing workplace dust.

Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is found in sand, stone, concrete and mortar. It is one of the most common minerals found on the earth’s crust and is used across a number of industries such as mining and construction.

Despite its many applications, it poses a potentially deadly threat to workers according to Safe Work Australia. Inhalation of the dust can lead to diseases including bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer and silicosis.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says Australia is currently in the midst of an accelerated silicosis epidemic, with more than 100 stonemasons diagnosed with the preventable disease in the past six months.

It has led to the Victorian Government initiating a compliance enforcement blitz, targeting high-risk workplaces. According to WorkSafe Victoria, the exposure standard for airborne crystalline silica is 0.1 milligrams per cubic metre over an eight-hour day, however the State Government is pushing to reduce this to 0.02 milligrams per cubic metre.

“Victorians have a right to expect their work won’t kill them – that’s why we’re doing all we can to make sure workers go home safe to their families,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement.

Related stories:

Silica dust is often generated by the cutting, drilling, extraction, crushing and screening of rock, meaning mine, quarry and bulk materials handling workers could be at risk. Excessive dust emissions can also be hazardous to motors and machinery, damaging and interfering with conveyor components.

Neil Kinder, CEO of Kinder Australia, says effective dust control is more important than ever before.

“The nature of today’s bulk materials handling operations produces dust, and plenty of it. Best practice dust control measures need to be implemented to keep dust emissions at industry standard compliant levels and to ensure the safety and health of all workers,” he says.

“Maximising productivity, protecting your most valuable assets (your people and plant) and the effective suppression of dust goes hand in hand.

“Current dust suppression systems vary greatly in terms of costs, complexity and ease of implementation, making it highly dependent on the operation’s size, location and surrounding environment.”

This is one of the reasons Kinder Australia performs site visits, to ensure its suppression systems will be a good fit for a site.

Recently, site inspections at an Asian-Pacific manufacturer uncovered it was suffering from major inefficiencies in material flow, as well as excessive conveyor material spillage and dust emissions. These inefficiencies had resulted in frequent shutdowns and excessive clean-up costs, with the recruitment of an external cleaning contractor required to manage spillage and minimise dust hazards.

Kinder’s team found the culprit for the inefficiencies to be the distance between frames on the existing skirting and conveyor belt. A K-Sure Belt Support System and K-Ultra Dual Seal have since been installed at the manufacturing plant to reduce the gap.

The system is a combined conveyor belt support and skirting solution within the steel plant’s impact zone under the chute. Two extra K-Sure Belt Support frames were introduced to reduce gap support to 300 millimetres solely for rail support, including a lead on frame.

By absorbing the full impact of the conveyed material at the transfer point, the manufacturing plant was able to reduce the amount of dust and material spillage significantly and slash clean-up costs. Because the seal is located where material is loaded and continues to where it becomes stable, belt tracking is minimised, and conveyor reliability improves.

Kinders’ range of dust control solutions includes conveyor belt covers which protect material from environmental factors such as sun, wind and rain. By covering the conveyor, airborne dust cannot escape as easily, which keeps emissions levels low. Because dust can affect more than just people, the company can implement a range of motor covers to protect vital and expensive machinery, prolonging their working life.

“When both material spillage containment and airborne dust is effectively suppressed and within acceptable industry standards, this can pave the way to operational improvements, continuous productivity, a safer and cleaner work place for all workers and meeting our environmental obligations,” Mr Kinder says.