health and safety resources

Health and Safety Resources Caution to Users Many of the resources - PDF document

Health and Safety Resources Caution to Users Many of the resources in this archive were originally prepared by WSNs predecessor organizations for use by industry clients. While much of the information and many of the forms included with them

  1. Health and Safety Resources Caution to Users Many of the resources in this archive were originally prepared by WSN’s predecessor organizations for use by industry clients. While much of the information and many of the forms included with them are still valuable, users should recognize that examples, contact information and data such as legislative references may be out of date. The resources are offered as free tools for companies to use in an effort to continuously improve their health and safety systems. But users of these resources also need to ensure that they are aware of the most recent legislation, equipment and processes, as well as current practices.

  2. 1 Air Contaminants

  3. Air Contaminants The quality of the air we breath has a direct impact on our health. Depending on the type of contaminants, concentration and duration of exposure, air contaminants may cause acute and chronic health effects. 2 Air Contaminants

  4. The Mining Industry Air contaminants can be found almost anywhere. Contaminants typically found in the mines include: • Silica • Asbestos • Nuisance Dust • Diesel Particulate Matter • Carbon Monoxide • Radon • Volatile Organic Compounds • Gasoline Vapours 3 • Bacteria and Fungi Air Contaminants

  5. Respirable Silica Source Silica is a naturally occurring substance. Respirable silica is created through the mechanical process when rock containing silica is drilled, blasted, crushed or transported Characteristics Respirable silica is very small (<10 micrometers) and breaks down into particles similar to glass shards; they are not visible to the naked eye Health Effects Scarring of the lungs resulting in silicosis with long term exposure; other health complications as a result of exposure Precautions Wetting down areas to prevent dust from becoming airborne; ventilation to remove or dilute dust; air sampling for silica 4 Air Contaminants

  6. Asbestos Source Naturally occurring substance can be contained in a variety of rock types; used in a variety of products e.g. insulation, shingles, ceiling tiles, wall plaster, brake pads, etc. Characteristics Long thin fibre (3:1 ratio) <10 micrometers; visible only with a microscope Health Effects Reaches deep into the lungs and cannot be removed which may result in asbestosis; or a cancer known as mesothelioma Precautions Respirators and other appropriate PPE must be worn; containment and proper disposal; air 5 sampling Air Contaminants

  7. Nuisance Dust Source Created through the mechanical process when rock is drilled, blasted, conveyed or transported Characteristics Small minute solid particles with diameters less than 500 micrometers Health Effects Short-term effects such as difficulty breathing and red, watery eyes; varies depending on mineral contained in dust Precautions Wetting down areas to prevent dust from becoming airborne; ventilation through removal or dilution of dust; air sampling for 6 total dust Air Contaminants

  8. Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) Source Emissions of diesel-powered equipment Characteristics Contains oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, hydrocarbons, soot Health Effects Immediate irritation to the respiratory tract; classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a ‘probable cancer-causing’ substance with repeated exposure Precautions Maintenance of equipment, diesel particulate filters; sampling of equipment, air sampling for Total Carbon; adherence to air flow 7 requirements in underground environment Air Contaminants

  9. Carbon Monoxide (CO) Source Incomplete combustion; blasting operations; confined spaces Characteristics Colourless, tasteless and odourless gas Health Effects High concentrations can cause chemical asphyxiation and death Precautions Monitor air concentrations in the area; provide adequate ventilation; preventive maintenance on vehicles to reduce CO emissions; monitor CO from equipment 8 Air Contaminants

  10. Radon Source Decaying uranium; seeps through cracks and fissures; absorbs into ground water; found in unventilated areas, sumps, dead- end headings, refuge stations Characteristics Colourless, odourless and radioactive gas Health Effects High incidence of lung cancer with exposure to repeated high concentrations Precautions Air sampling of various locations; ventilation; review geology reports for uranium content 9 Air Contaminants

  11. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Source Found in the fumes of solvents, paints, adhesives, photocopiers, air fresheners, fabric softeners, and tobacco smoke Characteristics Compounds that easily evaporate at room temperature Health Effects Low levels: fatigue, headache, dizziness and general discomfort High levels: respiratory irritation, tightness in chest, and nausea Precautions Clean up and maintain good housekeeping; ventilate areas; use proper PPE during 10 handling Air Contaminants

  12. Vapours and Fumes Source Fuels (gasoline, diesel); welding, cutting and burning processes Characteristics Created through evaporation or heating process; varies depending on source Health Effects Immediate nose and throat irritation; dizziness, headaches; damage to the nervous system and lungs Precautions Proper housekeeping; local ventilation and immediate removal of vapour or fumes from work area 11 Air Contaminants

  13. Bacteria and Fungi Source Poorly maintained ventilation systems, old timbers, sump areas, lunchrooms, washrooms, shower rooms or damp areas Characteristics Varies depending on bacteria and fungi Health Effects Depending on the organism, exposure may result in no effect, or asthma/allergy symptoms; or, in extreme cases, death. Precautions Clean up the area and maintain good housekeeping practices, ventilate areas for air movement to prevent damp areas 12 Air Contaminants

  14. Controlling Air Contaminants • Air contaminants can be controlled if worksites are aware of the type and quantity of air contaminants present • An assessment must be conducted to determine which air contaminants are present at the worksite. Control measures then need to be developed and maintained. • Continuous air sampling and monitoring helps ensure conditions at the worksite haven’t changed or deteriorated 13 Air Contaminants

  15. Personal Gravimetric Sampling Train • Workers may be asked to wear a Personal Gravimetric Sampling Train for a work shift • The train can be used to collect a number of different air contaminants • At the end of the shift, the train will have collected a sample of the worker’s exposure to the selected air contaminant 14 Air Contaminants

  16. Analysis of the Collected Samples • Results from the sample are analyzed at a lab off-site • Results help determine if the exposure level is safe or if further control measures need to be taken 15 Air Contaminants

  17. Control Measures Control measures for air contaminants include: Elimination: Eliminating the hazardous material or process completely Substitution: Substituting less- hazardous materials or processes Engineering: Adding barriers, ventilation or air filters Administrative: Policies and procedures that minimize exposure, preventive maintenance PPE: Certain areas may require workers to wear respirators, gloves, goggles, etc. 16 Air Contaminants


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