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Influence of continuous mining arrangements on respirable dust exposures

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2016, Vol. 340, No. 1, pp. 1-10

Beck, T.W.; Organiscak, J.A.; Pollock, D.E.; Potts, J.D.; Reed, W.R.



In underground continuous mining operations, ventilation, water sprays and machine-mounted flooded-bed scrubbers are the primary means of controlling respirable dust exposures at the working face. Changes in mining arrangements — such as face ventilation configuration, orientation of crosscuts mined in relation to the section ventilation and equipment operator positioning — can have impacts on the ability of dust controls to reduce occupational respirable dust exposures. This study reports and analyzes dust concentrations measured by the Pittsburgh Mining Research Division for remote-controlled continuous mining machine operators as well as haulage operators at 10 U.S. underground mines. The results of these respirable dust surveys show that continuous miner exposures varied little with depth of cut but are significantly higher with exhaust ventilation. Haulage operators experienced elevated concentrations with blowing face ventilation. Elevated dust concentrations were observed for both continuous miner operators and haulage operators when working in crosscuts driven into or counter to the section airflow. Individual cuts are highlighted to demonstrate instances of minimal and excessive dust exposures attributable to particular mining configurations. These findings form the basis for recommendations for lowering face worker respirable dust exposures.