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“The rock crusher operator had tears in his eyes”

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

I had the pleasure of taking the Advanced Cab Theory Workshop in 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. My experiences since that time motivated me to write this post.

Air quality in operator cabs is my passion. Fortunately, my work takes me to mine sites around eastern and northern Canada which provide ample opportunities to share my training, experience, and passion with mine owners, maintenance teams, and, most importantly, machine operators. Over the past ten years, we have identified air quality issues in operator enclosures and successfully installed air quality systems in hundreds of machines.

Recently I was in northeast Canada at an iron ore mine. We are regularly on this site doing preventative maintenance and working with the site personnel to install and maintain the air quality systems on their heavy equipment. The mine has a large rock-crushing machine that reduces thousands of tons of boulders to small rocks every day. This impressive crushing machine is operated from a stationary booth immediately next to the crusher.

While operating, the crusher generates massive amounts of respirable dust, which contain various minerals that are toxic to the human lung. I asked if I could measure the dust concentrations in the crusher cab. The dust concentrations were more than sixty times the threshold limit. The interior of the crusher cab was coated with a thick layer of rock dust. After obtaining permission from the site, we set to work cleaning up the inside of the cab. Then we installed Sy-Klone's ISO 23875 compliant cab air quality system, which includes a pressurization system with HEPA filtration, a powered recirculation system, and a cab monitoring system. After we completed the installation and clean-up, the machine returned to work.

The operators were delighted to see attention paid to the air quality and profusely thanked us. One operator said he had worked the last 12 years in the cab and complained that his nose was always full of dust. The air in the cab was stale and smelled of minerals.

Two weeks later, I was back on the site. As I approached the crusher cab, the operator came out and bowed and saluted me as if I was a conquering hero. He was so emotional that tears fell from his eyes. He was profoundly impacted by the air quality in the cab, and that we cared enough and knew enough to solve this problem.

I have several similar stories of operators whose gratitude and improved health motivate me to do everything I can to improve the air quality in their work environment. Operators run machines in some of the world’s most challenging environments experiencing severe cold, working in remote locations with little to cheer about. The crusher operator found something to cheer about, clean air and the health benefits of breathing it.

I came to Jacksonville in 2015 to take the International Society of Environmental Enclosure Engineers (ISEEE) Advanced Cab Theory Workshop (ACTW). The workshop continues to inspire us to improve the lives of others with what we have learned. ISEEE members and ACTW graduates help machine operators to experience life free from lung illnesses caused by what they breathe while operating a machine. This is the shared mission and passion of the International Society of Environmental Enclosure Engineers, an organization I am proud to represent. The greatest joy in life is knowing how to help others and then doing it!


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