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Standardization of operator enclosure air quality - Hazardous Environments

Hazardous environments

I was in south Texas at a pipe manufacturer crisscrossing through rows and rows of plastic and steel pipe. It was a sunny day and quite warm. The gravel and sand roads that separated the pipe piles were rutted and distorted from the heavy loads that traversed them. I was impressed by the volume of sand and dust, which covered every surface in the cab.

Later in the day, we traveled across town to their warehouse, where smaller forklifts were running. Like the previous cab, the interior was saturated with fine dust. Looking at the warehouse floor, it appeared that the dust was coming from the concrete floor, which was wearing into the aggregate layer below. Everything was covered in concrete dust.

ISO 23875;ISO 23875:2021, Cab air quality. Operator Enclosure
Forklift recieving maintenance

Is it impossible to predict where a machine will be used or when it will encounter respirable dust concentrations that are hazardous to the operator. There is a high probability, that all heavy equipment will operate in dusty, hazardous environments of their own making. The argument that certain classes of machines will not be exposed to hazardous environments, is difficult to defend in the real world. Rather than try to make this argument, we would be better served to produce operator enclosures that are designed, manufactured, and retrofitted to produce acceptable air quality in all environments.

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