Silica (silicon dioxide) is one of the most common elements on Earth. Silica can be found in two forms, crystalline and non-crystalline. Materials containing crystalline silica are non-hazardous unless agitated, such as blasting, crushing, chipping, cutting, drilling, and grinding, which can create tiny particles called respirable crystalline silica. Hydraulic fracturing is the main cause of respirable silica dust.
In bulk material handling, if a resulting dust particle is larger than 60 μm, it will be visible and settle rather swiftly. However, at less than 30 μm, it will not be visible unless reflecting light and will take a bit longer to settle.
When silica dust particles are less than 10 μm, they will stay airborne for up to several hours until gravity and electrostatic forces help them settle onto surfaces. Of greater importance, at this size, they can easily enter the lungs, where they are even more toxic than coal dust.
To illustrate just how poisonous it is, if we were to equally distribute 5.6 grams (the weight of a quarter) of respirable silica dust through the air in a large football stadium, a person breathing the air would be considered overexposed.
The challenge with bulk material handling is that it can continually re-suspend dust if a control plan is not in place. It can cause asthma, emphysema, silicosis (nodules and scarring in the lungs), and lung cancer when breathed over time.
Respirable Crystalline Silica is fine particle dust that can be a health hazard. It can cause kidney disease, including the increased risk of developing a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Therefore, occupational safety needs to be implemented and to lessen health exposure. Airborne silica dust can also lead to hazards such as slime (slips and falls), potential combustibility, and compromised visibility at the plant.
For all of these reasons, OSHA and MSHA have developed silica dust safety regulations. Failure to comply can lead to OSHA and MSHA fines related to silica. For example, the OSHA Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard requires employers to protect workers from dust exposure after high levels of silica dust at fracking sites. In addition, beginning September 2020, performing a Dust Hazards Analysis (DHA) of how dust hazards are being lessened and managed will be a required safety practice from the safety and health administration.
The Solution: Benetech Silica Dust Containment and Suppression Systems
Having a proper dust control plan is crucial, with so much at stake for both people and your business. Benetech specializes in dust suppression systems that help ensure a safer workplace and compliance if a regulatory agency requests a review or inspection. In addition, we can work with your plant to develop specific silica dust containment and suppression systems such as those needed for cement, stone, sand, gravel, or asphalt.
For containment at the conveyor, our MaxZone® Modular Skirtboard and Belt Support System include the dust control items for increasing plant safety and compliance while reducing housekeeping time and material loss. Just a few features include:
- Dust Tight Inspection-Doors with easy access to key areas for simple maintenance
- XN Liner Sealing System with no-hassle clamps and seals on the sides of the load zone to contain respirable dust and eliminate spillage
- Warrior Impact Bed with a stiff, rigid frame and soft rubber bars to cushion and absorb impact on the conveyor belt during loading
- Warrior Roll & Guide Support Bed with low-friction slider bars on the wing section and rollers in the center to create a seamless seal against spillage and dust in the load zone
- Benetech Training Idler for instant correction of belt misalignment without special structural modifications
Efficient dust suppression further applies chemical-solution injections that reduce and even eliminate respirable dust. It also applies your own engineered system with premium support and technology. Our engineers can design, fabricate and install a custom solution for greater dust control from stockpiles to stackouts to transfer points.
Benetech Dust Containment and Suppression Systems can help:
- reduce fine dust
- protect employers and construction workers
- reduce silica exposures during construction
- improve occupational safety and health
Stop Silica Dust Starting Today
We know how important it is to you to maintain a safe, productive, and compliant plant. We are here to support you with the dust control plan you need for your operation. Contact us at (630) 844-1300 to speak with a Benetech specialist.
Posted in Dust Control