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Long-term evaluation of cab particulate filtration and pressurization performance

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2012, Vol. 332, No. 1, pp. 521-531

Cecala, A.B.; Organiscak, J.A.; Noll, J.D.


Over the past decade, a substantial effort has been made to improve the air quality inside enclosed cabs of both underground and surface mobile mining equipment to reduce respirable dust exposures by the equipment operators. As part of this effort, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH) completed a comprehensive laboratory study that determined the significant factors for cab filtration and pressurization systems. From this information, a major underground mining equipment manufacturer designed a filtration and pressurization system that was incorporated into the enclosed cabs of its equipment. A long-term evaluation was performed on the effectiveness of this filtration and pressurization system to improve the air quality in the enclosed cabs of two different pieces of equipment, a face drill and a roof-bolter machine, at an underground limestone mine. This long-term evaluation demonstrated a significant reduction in dust levels between outside-to-inside cab respirable dust concentrations. During this evaluation, a modification to remove one of the filters on the roof-bolter machine simplified the design without sacrificing the system’s efficiency. Tests using particle count instruments performed during nonproduction time periods on both pieces of equipment indicated protection factors greater than 100 when comparing respirable-sized dust particles inside the enclosed cab relative to outside.