HalenHardy engineers and manufactures its award-winning MASHH Mobile Air Shower, a downdraft booth that reduces worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica, lead and other dusts by removing them from contaminated clothing in less than 30 seconds.
Silica, often referred to as quartz, is a very common mineral. It is found in many materials common on construction sites, including soil, sand, concrete, masonry, rock, granite, and landscaping materials.
The dust created by cutting, grinding, drilling or otherwise disturbing these materials can contain crystalline silica particles. These dust particles are very small and invisible to the human eye. When these tiny silica dust shards are inhaled, they often become imbedded deep into the alveolar sacs of the lungs (where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged).
WHY IS IT DANGEROUS?
Unfortunately, respirable silica dust can be hazardous and can cause silicosis, the oldest industrial disease.
As silicosis progresses, shortness of breath begins to occur and clinical tests will reveal a poor exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. In later stages the patient may experience persistent coughing, fatigue, extreme shortness of breath and even complete respiratory failure.
While silicosis is progressive, irreversible and incurable, NIOSH and OSHA have taken the position that silicosis is completely preventable.
SILICA DUST IN CONSTRUCTION
OSHA has determined that approximately 1.85 million workers are currently exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in construction workplaces.
More than 640,000 of these workers are likely being exposed to silica levels greater than OSHA’s proposed permissible exposure limit (PEL).
These exposures occur during common construction operations such as cutting, grinding, or abrasive blasting of silica-containing materials like concrete.
In addition to RCS exposure, there are several areas of construction that also expose workers to dangerous lead dust. This deadly combination of RCS and lead dust exposure occurs frequently during demolition, rehabilitation, or painting of structurally deficient bridges.
The U.S. has more than 90,000 bridges coated with lead-based paint.
TODAY’S CLOTHES CLEANING METHODS: INEFFECTIVE, INNEFFICIENT OR PROHIBITED
Based on government studies, industry interviews, and general observations, it was clear that the vast majority of companies engaged in silica-related industries were not utilizing “best practices” for their employees’ clothes cleaning. The documented and observed practices included:
1) DOING NOTHING. SIMPLY WEARING CONTAMINATED CLOTHING DURING BREAKS AND ON THE WAY HOME
Obviously, doing nothing to clean contaminated clothing is the worst possible scenario for company and its workers. The worker can be forgiven for their lack of knowledge and awareness, but the company is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of its workers.
2. USING A HEPA FILTERED MANUAL VACUUMING PROCESS
From the NIOSH report, Reducing Respirable Dust Exposure of Workers Using an Improved Clothes Cleaning Process:
“The only current federally approved method to perform clothes cleaning for the U.S. Mining industry is to use a HEPA-filter vacuuming system. To perform this technique, a worker uses the vacuum hose and manually moves the nozzle over his/her soiled clothing in an attempt to remove the contamination.
This is a very difficult and time consuming task to perform. In addition, it is nearly impossible to effectively clean one’s back without additional help from a co-worker. Because of this, few workers actually use this technique and prefer to use a single compressed air hose to blow dust from their clothing, even though this is a prohibited method of cleaning.”
3. USING COMPRESSED AIR NOZZLES FOR MANUAL BLOWOFF IS DANGEROUS AND PROHIBITED BY NIOSH & OSHA
“The use of compressed air to remove dust from work clothing is prohibited by MSHA; however, because the vacuuming method is very time-consuming and ineffective, workers may attempt this illegal method of a single compressed air hose to blow dust from their clothing. Although this is a slightly more effective method than the vacuuming technique, it is also time consuming and equally difficult to clean the same hard to reach areas. The primary concern with the blowing technique is that it creates a dust cloud, elevating respirable dust levels for both the worker and coworkers in the work environment [Pollock et al. 2005].”
In addition to these shortcomings, there are also significant safety concerns. From the NIOSH report, Reducing Respirable Dust Exposure of Workers Using an Improved Clothes Cleaning Process:
“There are two federal regulations that affect the cleaning of clothes during the workday for the mining industry. The first is a mining regulation established by MSHA in 30 CFR Part 56.13020 which states: “At no time shall compressed air be directed toward a person. When compressed air is used, all necessary precautions shall be taken to protect persons from injury.”
“A second regulation is a general industry standard established by OSHA in 29 CFR 1910.242(b) stating that: “Compressed air shall not be used for cleaning purposes except where reduced to less than 206.8kPA (30psi) and then only with effective chip guard and personal protective equipment.”
MASHH TECHNICAL SPECS
Self-contained system housed in an all-weather aluminum composite enclosure
System footprint is 4’W X 8’L X 9’H
Weight is 1850lbs
The system is mounted on a skid with fork-holes on each end for easy handling. Six (6) lifting strap D-rings are also mounted on the skid.
Electric is 240V-3Phase
Programmable Logic Control (PLC) is completely programmable for cycle times, filter monitoring, operator instructions, auto shutoff, and remote monitoring
Primary and HEPA filters are standard items available through HalenHardy or multiple filter suppliers. Filter changes are the only maintenance required for the MASHH system.