Last week I attended the 5th Annual Dust and Respiratory Health Forum in Brisbane, Australia. The forum is organized by the Sustainable Minerals Institute, a world-leading research Institute. The Dust and Respiratory Health Forum brings together experts from around the world and features the advancements and latest trends in the management of dust and mine dust lung diseases.
Over 100 professionals attended in person and online. There were presentations, for example, by Professor Bob Cohen (U of Illinois), Assoc. Professor Emily Sarver (Virginia Tech) and Dr. Rob McDonald (BHP), to mention a few, as well as Regulators and Australian Researchers in the field of Dust and Respiratory Health. There were some great insights into the research on real-time analyzers for respirable dust with one goal to be able to use an App and your phone camera to measure levels using cross-polarized light!
One thing that resonated with me was that there has been and continues to be great research and technological progress to identify and control dust exposures. While we are continually learning, there is more work to do to prevent and sustain the prevention of dust-related occupational respiratory dust illnesses.
Presentations from two Regulators showed the lagging indicators of dust-related respiratory illnesses being identified and findings of deficiencies in the engineering controls used to effectively manage respirable dust risk in mobile equipment used in mining. This is an example of where ISO 23875 has a part in protecting operators in cabs from respirable dust and other hazardous dust, like crystalline silica.
We should share with our colleagues the role ISO 23875 plays, as an effective engineering control, to reduce operator dust exposures.