OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 36 Mining

Section 537 Dust from drills

Subsection 537(1)

Dust generated by drilling operations must be controlled to minimize related health and safety risks. Control is generally done in two ways. The primary method is the use of a wetting agent right at the tip of the drilling bit. This conforms to the long held belief that the dust should be suppressed at its point of generation.

Dust control is also possible through mechanical means by routing dust-laden air through dust-collection equipment with filters and then releasing the filtered air.

Until recently, only water systems were approved for underground drilling operations. Now, with advances in filtering capability, some drills equipped with mechanical filtration and separation systems have been approved.

Drilling dust is normally controlled in open pit mines by one or more means that can include water, a mixture of water and methanol, bag filters, and cyclone filters.

Subsection 537(2)

If drilling is intermittent and dust cannot be effectively controlled, alternative methods of protecting workers may be approved by the Director through an acceptance as described in section 10 of the OHS Regulation. The Director is a member of the staff of Alberta Human Services, appointed by the Minister under section 5 of the OHS Act.

In place of engineered dust controls, the use of suitably effective respiratory protective equipment may be acceptable, but only as a last resort and only in short-term drilling operations.

The term ”intermittent drilling” would be interpreted based on the overall mining plan concept for the particular mining environment. If drilling should reasonably have been predicted, then engineered dust controls would be the expected standard on drills for production-drilling operations.