Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

Bharath Belle, How relevant are engineering samples in the management of personal dust exposure?, in Naj Aziz and Bob Kininmonth (eds.), Proceedings of the 17th Coal Operators' Conference, Mining Engineering, University of Wollongong, 8-10 February 2017, 395-410.


A directive, legislated by the South African Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) in 1997, was introduced to reduce the respirable dust exposure of Mechanical Miner (MM) operators to below 5 mg/m3, when measured at the operator’s cab position. This was to be achieved by ensuring that ventilation and dust control systems are effective in minimising the worker dust exposure. The focus of this paper is to review the effectiveness of this rule for almost two decades by using engineering sampling data to compare cost of monitoring versus success in dust control, to discuss perceptions arising from the application of this rule and to suggest improvement opportunities in the management of this hazard within the South African industry. The results of this study have demonstrated that the fixed-location Continuous Miner (CM) engineering sample results cannot predict the shift dust exposure of an MM operator. Therefore, it is recommended that the CM engineering sampling, as currently practiced, should be reviewed with the potential objective to discontinue it and replace it by personal exposure monitoring using the new MSHA-approved real-time monitoring device (NIOSH PDM3700). This instrument is able to collect relevant engineering dust control data for effective exposure management. The conclusions of this paper are based on extensive data analyses and should enable each mine and the regulator to make step-changes in current daily engineering sampling requirements and provide the flexibility required to approach the management of personal exposure more effectively by reducing human errors in sampling and optimising the use of available resources for the benefit of the South African Mining Industry.