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Development of a canopy air curtain to reduce roof bolters’ dust exposure

Mining Engineering , 2012, Vol. 64, No. 7, pp. 72-79

Listak, J. M.; Beck, T. W.


The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of a filtered air delivery system to reduce respirable dust exposure of roof bolter operators in underground coal mines. When performing roof bolting operations, roof bolter operators may experience exposure to high levels of respirable dust during a working shift, especially when working downwind of the continuous mining machine. While drilling and installing roof bolts, this filtered air system supplies a clean curtain of air over the roof bolter operator by means of a plenum mounted beneath the canopy. This experimentally designed air curtain, adapted for roof bolting machines used in this study, is based upon previous design prototypes, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and trial-and-error testing. Both the prototype and final designs were tested in the full-scale mining galleries at the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) in Pittsburgh, PA before being taken underground for field testing. Test results of the system in both laboratory and field studies show reductions in operator exposure to respirable dust when the operator is positioned directly under the protected zone of the canopy.