Real-Time Air Quality Monitoring Technology Helps Inform Decisions to Reduce Dust Exposure inside Haul Truck Cabs
At Teck’s Greenhills Operations (GHO), cutting-edge dust monitoring technology is enabling us to make data-driven decisions to reduce employee dust exposure, and improve occupational health and safety. About the Study Dust containing crystalline silica can enter haul truck cabs through windows and ventilation systems, and prolonged exposure to these particles can be harmful. For years, it was industry standard to rely on traditional sampling methods to determine average exposure during a shift. In 2019, Teck took advantage of innovative Nanozen real-time dust monitoring technology to gain detailed, real-time data on dust exposure levels throughout a typical haul truck driver shift. Nanozen monitoring technology uses sensors to provide data on the size and concentration of particulate exposures in real time. Analysis of the results can then track highs and lows, identifying which activities pose the greatest exposure risk, enabling the team to find targeted ways to reduce exposures. Through analyzing the Nanozen results, the team found that some of the most significant sources and highest concentrations of particulates occurred when compressed air was used to blow out the haul truck cabs. The results also showed that different ventilation settings in some truck cabs contributed to higher dust exposure. Air Quality Improvements Implemented As a result of the study, significant improvements were identified to reduce driver exposure to dust, and several actions were taken following the study.
First, compressed air systems were removed and replaced with HEPA vacuums. We also significantly enhanced our cleaning schedule and resources to clean the cabs to help reduce dust trapped in fabrics. Teck is also trialing a high-efficiency pressurization system on several trucks, which includes a new air recirculation system for haul truck cabs as well as air filter improvements. Gillian MacGregor, Occupational Hygiene Technician, Health and Safety, and Taylor Burgess, Occupational Hygienist, Health and Safety, both played major roles in implementing the project and supporting personnel at GHO. “With these improvements based on our initial monitoring, there have been significant reductions in particulate exposures,” said Gillian. “Our next step is to complete and analyze monitoring results so we can provide our final recommendations and move forward with broader implementation.” Next Steps Moving forward with this new monitoring technology, Teck has implemented a pilot project to field test Nanozen’s real-time exposure monitoring technology at two of our other operations – Fording River and Highland Valley Copper – to expand use of the technology and find additional improvements. “This advancement in real-time particulate monitoring represents a fundamental shift for the industry and helps us improve on our commitment to protecting the long-term health of Teck employees,” said Lawrence Watkins, Vice President, Health and Safety.