Monthly Archives: December 2017

Noise-induced hearing loss protection and Mining Safety

This article from Mining Safety provides interesting information on Noise-induced hearing loss protection and Mining Safety
Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable.
Unlike most occupational injuries, there is no visible evidence of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). It is not traumatic and often goes unnoticed when it first occurs. Noise-induced hearing loss accumulates over time, its effects realized long after the damage has been done. NIHL is permanent and irreversible. With proper education, motivation and protection, however, it is also 100% preventable.
According to the World Health Organization, noise-induced hearing loss is the most common permanent and preventable occupational illness in the world. In the European Union, NIHL is the most commonly reported occupational injury.
20% of EU workers are exposed to hazardous noise half their working time, 10% exposed full time (source: EU OSHA).
Howard Leight is committed to providing new motivational and training tools to build an effective Hearing Conservation Programme that works for your employees. Visit howardleight.com to learn more and receive these tools.
When is noise considered hazardous? Anytime you must shout at someone an arm’s length away to be heard.
While exposure to hazardous noise is common, prevention of NIHL is simple:
Consistent use of properly fitted hearing protection when exposed to hazardous noise. That is the goal of every Hearing Conservation Programme.
Noise-induced hearing loss is not solely a workplace issue. It can happen off the job, too. Many employees use power tools, attend loud rock concerts and sporting events, or participate in shooting sports.
All are opportunities for exposure to hazardous noise. Prevention is the key, on and off the job.
Indicators of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Although there are no visual signs, there are a few simple indicators of NIHL. Identification in its early stages can help prevent further damage.
Gradual Progression
NIHL rarely happens overnight. Rather, it accumulates over time with every unprotected exposure to hazardous noise, usually in both ears. This progression can be detected through healthy hearing practices, including the performance of annual audiograms on all employees in your Hearing Conservation Programme. Audiograms can identify whether your employees are experiencing a degradation in hearing, which indicates permanent damage and requires further preventative action.
High-Frequency Hearing Loss
When hearing impairment begins, the high frequencies are often lost first, which is why people with NIHL often have difficulty hearing high pitched sounds such as human voices, alarms and signals. Compared to other sounds, they will seem muffled or distorted.
With normal hearing, conversations are understandable if they are loud enough. When someone suffers from noise-induced hearing loss, simply turning up the volume does not make speech clearer. The clarity is adversely affected regardless of how loud the volume.
Common Symptoms
Those suffering from noise-induced hearing loss will experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or muffled hearing. Non-auditory effects of NIHL may include increased stress, high blood pressure, sleep problems and/or headaches.
Create a successful Hearing Conservation Programme through best practices.
As manufacturing, construction and other industrial endeavors are on the rise in Europe, so are the number of people exposed to harmful levels of noise in the workplace. Over 29% of all employees are exposed to hazardous levels of noise in at least one-quarter of their time in the workplace, and 11% are exposed at all times1 – and these trends are increasing.
While noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and irreversible, it is completely preventable. The new European Union Directive 2003/10/EC, aims to prevent employee exposure to harmful noise, while promoting a healthier and more productive workforce.
The following outlines the provisions of the Directive, including best practices in implementing a successful Hearing Conservation Programme.
Determination and assessment of risk
  • Assessment – A noise exposure assessment must be obtained for all employees exposed to 80 dBA LEq. But not every employee must be personally monitored through dosimetry. Representative samples may be taken, if it can be shown that noise exposures are equivalent to other employees in the same area or performing the same task.
  • Professional Service – Noise levels throughout the workplace must be measured through representative sampling by a competent service.
  • Document Changing Conditions – Whenever you make a change in equipment or process, you need to document this change, even if the noise level is reduced.
  • Post a Noise Map – A noise map in common areas is an effective way to notify employees of area noise and related changes.
  • Document Exposure – Each employee’s TWA noise exposure should be recorded in his/her personnel file.
Avoiding and reducing exposure
  • Engineering Controls – Apply engineering controls at the noise source or along the noise path to reduce exposures. These controls may include vibration dampeners, absorptive panels, barriers, muffler, or variations in force or drive speed of motors.
  • Maintenance – Perform regular maintenance on machinery to prevent additional noise.
  • Administrative – Implement administrative controls to limit the exposure time for employees. These controls may include rotating employees in noisy areas, providing quiet breaks for noise-exposed employees, or moving processes such as maintenance or cleaning to quieter workshifts.
  • Buy Quiet – Purchase new products or machinery with enhanced noise control.
  • Maintain – Noise is often a machine’s cry for maintenance. Repairs can reduce noise levels.
  • Block or Isolate the Source – Erect barriers, or relocate noisy equipment (or their operators) behind heavy walls. Doubling the distance from a noisy piece of equipment effectively reduces the sound energy by half (about a 3 dB drop in noise level).
  • Schedule Employees – Administrative controls include such actions as giving noise-exposed employees breaks in quiet areas, or rotating employees into noisy jobs for short durations.
Personal protection
  • Voluntary Usage – A variety of hearing protectors must be made available to employees exposed to the Lower Action Level of 80 dBA (8-hour exposure).
  • Mandatory Usage – Employees must utilise hearing protectors when noise exposure meets or exceeds the 85 dBA Upper Action Level (8-hour exposure).
  • Usage – Employer must ensure proper use of hearing protection amongst noise-exposed employees.
  • Offer a True Variety – Make available to all your employees at least one style of single-use, multiple-use, and banded earplugs, and one earmuff.
  • Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) – Determine employees’ earplug fit effectiveness by using field verification systems, such as VeriPRO™. Find out if they are receiving optimal protection, require additional training on earplug fitting, or need to try a different model.
  • Make HPDs Convenient – Increase accessibility to hearing protection by installing earplug dispensers near time clock or by placing earmuffs at supervisor stations.
Health surveillance
  • Audiometry – Preventive audiometric testing must be made available to employees whose exposure exceeds the lower exposure action levels.
  • Recordkeeping – Employer is responsible for maintaining up-to-date health surveillance records.
  • Access – Employees have access to health surveillance records upon request.
  • Retain Records – This will help your audiologist compare audiograms serially over time.
  • Get Follow-Up Reports – Ensure that your testing service provides understandable follow-up reports.
  • Review Results Immediately – Studies show that reviewing audiometric test results with employees right after testing yields a more positive impact.
Worker information and training
  • Training – Employees must receive information on risks of noise exposure, methods of avoiding/reducing exposure, exposure limits/values per Directive, assessment/measurement of noise, proper use of hearing protectors, detecting/reporting signs of noise exposure, circumstances of health surveillance, and safe working practice to avoid noise exposure.
  • Provide One-on-One Training – This individualized attention will make for a more memorable training experience.
  • Offer Ongoing Education – Distribute informational flyers and hang motivational posters in common areas and near hearing protection sources. Offer “toolbox” trainings throughout the year.
Consultation and participation of workers
  • Participation – Employees can actively participate in the decisions affecting their hearing health.
  • Teamwork – Assembling a cross-departmental team for your Hearing Conservation programme can enhance support, provide input and help implementation in a variety of areas. Include staff from safety and health, employees in your hearing conservation program, medical personnel, purchasing, human resources and senior management.
Understanding the Risks
Employees are generally unaware of the potentially harmful noise levels they are exposed to every day — both on the job and off. The Howard Leight® Noise Thermometer is a highly effective visual tool that helps employees understand noise risks in everyday activities and European hearing protection requirements.
Main Components of European Union Directive 2003/10/EC
Action Level – 80 dBA
Monitor all noise levels Annual audiometric testing for exposed workers Annual training for exposed workers Variety of suitable hearing protectors must be made available at no cost to the employee
Permissible Exposure Limit – 85 dBA
Hearing protectors required for noise-exposed workers
Hours Per Day 8 6 4 3 2 1.5 1 0.5
Sound Level (dBA) 85 86 88 89 91 92 94 97

Content kindly provided by HSE Solutions.
www.hsesolutions.co.za

Scientists observe gravitational anomaly on Earth

Modern physics has accustomed us to strange and counterintuitive notions of reality—especially quantum physics which is famous for leaving physical objects in strange states of superposition. For example, Schrödinger’s cat, who finds itself unable to decide if it is dead or alive. Sometimes however quantum mechanics is more decisive and even destructive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symmetries are the holy grail for physicists. Symmetry means that one can transform an object in a certain way that leaves it invariant. For example, a round ball can be rotated by an arbitrary angle, but always looks the same. Physicists say it is symmetric under rotations. Once the symmetry of a physical system is identified it’s often possible to predict its dynamics.

Sometimes however the laws of quantum mechanics destroy a symmetry that would happily exist in a world without quantum mechanics, i.e classical systems. Even to physicists this looks so strange that they named this phenomenon an “anomaly.”

For most of their history, these quantum anomalies were confined to the world of elementary particle physics explored in huge accelerator laboratories such as Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. Now however, a new type of materials, the so-called Weyl semimetals, similar to 3-D graphene, allow us to put the symmetry destructing quantum anomaly to work in everyday phenomena, such as the creation of electric current.

In these exotic materials electrons effectively behave in the very same way as the elementary particles studied in high energy accelerators. These particles have the strange property that they cannot be at rest—they have to move with a constant speed at all times. They also have another property called spin. It is like a tiny magnet attached to the particles and they come in two species. The spin can either point in the direction of motion or in the opposite direction.

When one speaks of right- and left-handed particles this property is called chirality. Normally the two different species of particles, identical except for their chirality (handedness), would come with separate symmetries attached to them and their numbers would be separately conserved. However, a quantum anomaly can destroy their peaceful coexistence and changes a left-handed particle into a right-handed one or vice-versa.

Appearing in a paper published today in Nature, an international team of physicists, material scientists and string theoreticians, have observed such a material, an effect of a most exotic quantum anomaly that hitherto was thought to be triggered only by the curvature of space-time as described by Einstein’s theory of relativity. But to the surprise of the team, they discovered it also exists on Earth in the properties of solid state physics, which much of the computing industry is based on, spanning from tiny transistors to cloud data centers.

“For the first time, we have experimentally observed this fundamental quantum anomaly on Earth which is extremely important towards our understanding of the universe,” said Dr. Johannes Gooth, an IBM Research scientist and lead author of the paper. “We can now build novel solid-state devices based on this anomaly that have never been considered before to potentially circumvent some of the problems inherent in classical electronic devices, such as transistors.”

New calculations, using in part the methods of string theory, showed that this gravitational anomaly is also responsible for producing a current if the material is heated up at the same time a magnetic field is applied.

“This is an incredibly exciting discovery. We can clearly conclude that the same breaking of symmetry can be observed in any physical system, whether it occurred at the beginning of the universe or is happening today, right here on Earth,” said Prof. Dr. Karl Landsteiner, a string theorist at the Instituto de Fisica Teorica UAM/CSIC and co-author of the paper.

IBM scientists predict this discovery will open up a rush of new developments around sensors, switches and thermoelectric coolers or energy-harvesting devices, for improved power consumption.
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-scientists-gravitational-anomaly-earth_1.html#jCp

Have a great Day! Chris

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Robot can inspect water or gas pipes from the inside to find leaks

Robot can inspect water or gas pipes from the inside to find leaks long before they become catastrophic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Access to clean, safe water is one of the world’s pressing needs, yet today’s water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks. These leaks not only make shortages worse but also can cause serious structural damage to buildings and roads by undermining foundations.

Unfortunately, leak detection systems are expensive and slow to operate—and they don’t work well in systems that use wood, clay, or plastic pipes, which account for the majority of systems in the developing world.

Now, a new system developed by researchers at MIT could provide a fast, inexpensive solution that can find even tiny leaks with pinpoint precision, no matter what the pipes are made of.

The system, which has been under development and testing for nine years by professor of mechanical engineering Kamal Youcef-Toumi, graduate student You Wu, and two others, will be described in detail at the upcoming IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in September. Meanwhile, the team is carrying out tests this summer on 12-inch concrete water-distribution pipes under the city of Monterrey, Mexico.

The system uses a small, rubbery robotic device that looks something like an oversized badminton birdie. The device can be inserted into the water system through any fire hydrant. It then moves passively with the flow, logging its position as it goes. It detects even small variations in pressure by sensing the pull at the edges of its soft rubber skirt, which fills the diameter of of the pipe.

The device is then retrieved using a net through another hydrant, and its data is uploaded. No digging is required, and there is no need for any interruption of the water service. In addition to the passive device that is pushed by the water flow, the team also produced an active version that can control its motion.

Monterrey itself has a strong incentive to take part in this study, since it loses an estimated 40 percent of its water supply to leaks every year, costing the city about $80 million in lost revenue. Leaks can also lead to contamination of the water supply when polluted water backs up into the distribution pipes.

The MIT team, called PipeGuard, intends to commercialize its robotic detection system to help alleviate such losses. In Saudi Arabia, where most drinking water is provided through expensive desalination plants, some 33 percent is lost through leakage. That’s why that desert nation’s King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals has sponsored and collaborated on much of the MIT team’s work, including successful field tests there earlier this year that resulted in some further design improvements to the system, Youcef-Toumi says.

Those tests, in a mile-long section of 2-inch rusty pipe provided by Pipetech LLC, a pipeline service company in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, that frequently uses the same pipe system for validating and certifying pipeline technologies. The tests, in pipes with many bends, T-joints, and connections, involved creating an artificial leak for the robot to find. The robot did so successfully, distinguishing the characteristics of the leak from false alarms caused by pressure variations or changes in pipe size, roughness, or orientation.

“We put the robot in from one joint, and took it out from the other. We tried it 14 times over three days, and it completed the inspection every time,” Wu says. What’s more, it found a leak that was about one gallon per minute, which is one-tenth the minimum size that conventional detection methods can find on average, and a third as large as those systems can find under even the best of conditions.

These leakage issues are widespread. “In China, there are many newly built cities and they all use plastic water pipes,” says Honghai Bi, CEO of Banzan International Group, one of the largest plastic pipe manufacturers in China. “In those new pipe systems there is still about 30 percent of water lost due to leaks every day. Currently there is not an effective tool to locate leaks in those plastic pipes, and MIT PipeGuard’s robot is the disruptive change we have been looking for.”

The next step for the team, after the field tests in Monterrey, is to make a more flexible, collapsible version of their robot that can quickly adapt itself to pipes of different diameters. Under the steets of Boston, for example, there are a mix of 6-, 8- and 12-inch pipes to navigate—many of them installed so long ago that the city doesn’t even have accurate maps of their locations. The robot would expand “like an umbrella,” Wu says, to adapt to each pipe.

The value of the robot is not just for reducing water losses, but also for making water services safer and more reliable. “When a leak occurs, the force of the water flowing from underground can do serious structural damage undermining streets, flooding houses, and damaging other underground utilities. There is also the issue of loss of service to residents and business for extended period of time,” says Mark Gallager, director of engineering and distribution at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Water Department. The ability of this system to detect much smaller leaks could enable early detection and repair, long before serious pipe breaks occur.

Gallager says, “If we had the capability to find leaks when they first appear or before they get to the point of critical failure, that could equate to preventing the loss of millions of gallons of water annually. It could minimize the damage to infrastructure and the loss of water services to homes and businesses, and it could significantly reduce the associated cost.”

Not only could the system find leaks in virtually any kind of water pipe, it could also be used for other kinds of pipe distribution systems, such as those for natural gas. Such pipes, which are often old and also poorly mapped, have produced serious gas buildups and even explosions in some cities, but leaks are hard to detect until they become large enough for people to smell the added odorants. The MIT system was actually first developed to detect gas leaks, and later adapted for water pipes.

Ultimately, the team hopes, the robot could not just find leaks but also be equipped with a special mechanism they have designed, so that, at least for smaller leaks, it could carry out an instant repair on the spot.

The device has already attracted a series of honors and awards. The team members won the $10,000 prize at the 2017 MIT Water Innovation competition, and they were finalists in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, where they won another $10,000. In the $100K finals, they won yet another $10,000 for the Booz Allen Hamilton Data Analytics Award, and they were one of the 25 winners nationwide to receive a $10,000 2017 Infy Maker Award from Infosys Foundation.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-robot-gas-pipes-leaks-catastrophic.html#jCp

Enjoy your day! Chris

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

What’s it like working in a Coal Mine

Amit Kuma – Quora – says:

“I am an Undergraduate student of Mining Engineering and I can tell for sure that most of the people have this misconception that Coal mines are always underground and it looks something like:

or this

But truth is that with the advancement of technology, machinery and rock mechanics, nowadays, Coal mines are mostly Open -Pit Type (Surface mines). But Underground coal mines also exist in large numbers but due to heavy mechanisation, the method of working and working conditions have changed extremely.

An surface coal mine:

Underground mines too now have heavy mechanization, good working conditions like safety, temperature, ventilation etc.

“Many people ask if I have to crawl around all day long – nope! I drive an F-150 underground. Speed limit is 25, but I’ve never gotten pulled over down there (all the trucks have governor chips set to 25). Some mines in the Appa-latch-in Mountains are only 4 ft. high, but I’ve never worked there. The walls are white with “rock dust”, this prevents coal dust from being breathed in and coal dust is also combustable – you don’t want it floating around.”

– A miner from a well mecanised mine.

So, the conclusion is that in new and modernized mines the working conditions are upto mark. Even if the work is somewhat dangerous and boring but it is doable.

But still their exist some old mines where you’ll find that it is very hard to work for the miners as well as the engineers and geologists etc. In these mines, every thing is handled by human labour hence making it more difficult.

“The actual working area is like a crawl space in a house. The average height is about 40 inches. So you’re going to crawl.

When you’re bent, you can’t use your legs as much. You have to rely on your arms and back. To pick up 25 pounds standing upright is easy for most people. When you’re bent over on your knees, it becomes much harder.

The average coal miner works 60 hours a week. That’s standard. Most coal miners work 10-hour shifts, 6 days a week.

Everything is intensified in the mines. You’re in a foreign atmosphere. Deep underground the air is different. The oxygen goes down. The temperature on average is in the 50s, but you still sweat an enormous amount when you start laboring.“ – Alan Bates, working in the coal mines of Letcher County, Kentucky.

But with more mechanisation we hope these mines will also improve in coming times.

And it also depends on the type of job. If you are miner, it’ll be pretty hard compared to an machine/haulage truck operator which in turn is inferior to the Engineers.

“Mining engineering pays at about the same level as chemical engineering, computer science, and petroleum engineering. I started at $70k and moved up from there. The hours are very long though – I start at 6AM and get off at 5PM.”

Some more technologies which makes working easier in mines are:

Remote controlled machines

No Pickaxes any more

Conveyors

Improved ventilation technique

But as it is said that:

And when will work in coal you hands will surely get dirty.

And moreover, the girls now a days, are taking up mining jobs. So, it will be more fun than ever. Just j0king ;)”

Hope you enjoyed the read! Chris

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Residents call for more dust control

USA – Residents in northwest Okotoks are fed up with the amount of dust and debris they find blowing into their yards and homes from the D’Arcy site on daily basis.

Residents of northwest Okotoks are unhappy with the amount of dust in their homes due to construction on the D'Arcy site.

Construction began on the D’Arcy Ranch lands in the spring, and the site has been a flurry of scraping and rough grading activity all summer. However, some living in nearby neighbourhoods are sounding off on the amount of dust they say the work has created.

Chris Large, who lives in the 100 block of Suntree, said he’s tired of having to use a power blower to remove dust from his front and back porches and vehicles every day. He’s calling on the Town to have more dust control measures implemented on the construction site.

“They’ve got probably a dozen scrapers and bulldozers there, and they’ve got one water truck,” said Large. “It would seem to me the developer’s got more responsibility to the community than having one water truck doing however many dozen acres of scraping they’re doing.”

He took his concerns public with a post on social media last week, which garnered support from some users and generated criticism from others.

Seeing comments from other residents with similar concerns told him the Town needs to take action, he said. Others who said it’s just part of development likely don’t live in the area and aren’t exposed to the issue, he said.

“It’s development, so I guess if they wanted to go 24/7 and have all their machinery running close to those houses that I should suck it up and live with it,” said Large. “You know what? Development or not, there should still be a responsibility and a social awareness that you could do development without impacting the neighbourhood.”

He said existing residents should not be inconvenienced just for the sake of building more homes and businesses.

Hazel Tulick, who lives in the villas behind No Frills, on Sandstone Court, said it’s been a long summer living with the dust and debris coming from D’Arcy.

The situation was compounded by a couple of dust storms, which carried even more dirt into their yards and home, she said. It was so bad at one point, she said drivers had to pull over due to a lack of visibility.

“It’s just inadequate dust control and dirt control,” said Tulick. “There’s dust in our yards, on our deck, in our houses. It’s in our plants, it’s in our curtain, it’s in our windows and window sills. It’s everywhere.”

She said some people in the neighbourhood have hired professional cleaners a few times over the summer to deal with the mess, but many have given up on staying on top of it.

Though there have been two water trucks on the site recently, she said it’s still not enough to keep up with the amount of dust in the air.

“I just plead with the Town to please do something about this, please do something about this,” said Tulick. “It’s so frustrating for us people, and I think the whole town is noticing it now, too. There’s so much dust in our town.”

Mitchell Kowalski, Okotoks engineer technologist, said the developers at D’Arcy are in compliance with the Town’s policies around dust control for construction sites.

“The contractor who’s been on the site there has taken the dust concern very seriously, and they have shut down on multiple days just due to high winds and the amount of dust it was creating,” said Kowalski.

Kowalski said the developer has employed sufficient dust control methods with its water trucks according to the Town’s specifications.

It’s normal to see dust in the air during construction, but the weather this summer has compounded the issue everywhere, he said.

“That’s probably one of the worsts things, is the weather,” said Kowalski. “All the construction sites I’ve been to in the town have been really dry. It’s hard keeping up.”

Source – Western Wheel

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.