Managing Health Hazards in the Mining Industry
The mining industry has a bad reputation because of its serious health effects. The government recognizes this problem and acts by implementing strict laws that govern mining operations to protect not only workers but also the public and the environment. In this article, we’ll talk about the best ways to manage health hazards in mining.
- Coal Dust
Coal is brittle and delicate, which makes it produce dust particles during mining, handling, or transportation. This form of fugitive dust is a huge health issue. Aside from being an explosive hazard, inhaling coal dust can cause black lung disease or coal worker’s pneumoconiosis. When it gets in contact with the skin, it also results in irritation.
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- Silica Dust
Like coal dust, these are tiny particles with huge health repercussions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can result in silicosis and lung cancer. The health effects are the same with silica dust, so as the manner of prevention. One of the most effective ways to deal with silica is to use water misting cannons that saturate dust at the source.
Beryllium, crystalline silica, cyanide, mercury, radon, lead, and sulfuric acid are common chemicals that are present in mining sites. Exposure to these chemicals can result in poisoning, burns, and respiratory problems. They can also have a foul smell, which makes it critical to have the best odor control systems in place. Ventilation also helps to minimize the threats from hazardous chemicals. Using personal protective equipment and training workers on safe handling are also important.
- UV Exposure
Miners often work in open areas, which expose them to the harsh heat of the sun. Especially when the sun is at its peak, this is not only uncomfortable but can also be a health risk. Over-exposure to UV rays is one of the leading causes of skin cancer. In the short term, UV exposure is also dangerous, and workers can suffer from nausea, headache, heat stress, eye injuries, and skin problems. Engineering and administrative controls will lessen the risks, as well as training the miners and the use of PPE.
Mining sites are notoriously known for being noisy. The use of heavy equipment and constant drilling can, among other mining activities, expose the workers to excessive noise. It results in tinnitus, sleep disorders, and hearing loss, among other problems. One solution is to implement engineering controls to minimize noise from mining activities. Using vibration dampeners also helps. Wearing earmuffs is also a good practice for noise reduction.
From coal dust to noise, many hazards are present in mining sites. They affect not only the workers but also the people around and the environment. The business has the inherent responsibility to implement a string of measures to manage these hazards to promote a safe and healthy workplace.