Title: Workers exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust at selected coal fired power stations in Bethal, Mpumalanga province, South Africa
Workers in coal-fired power stations engage in a range of work tasks or processes which may involve handling or exposure to respirable dust, including coal dust or coal fly ash. Recent studies have shown that crystalline silica exposure remains one of the detrimental concerns in mining, construction and general industry. A quantitative study was conducted to determine employee’s level of exposure to respirable crystalline silica at a coal fired power station in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. A total of 34 employees participated in the study. The study revealed that the male employees were most predominant in the coal handling plant as compared to the females. 81.2% (n=27) of the respondents were found to be males while 18.8% (n=7) were found to be females. The study determined the mean exposure value of 0.969 mg/m3 for respirable coal dust which was found to be below the recommended occupational exposure limit (OEL) of 2 mg/m3 as set by the Department of Labour (DoL). While the study determined the mean exposure value for crystalline silica as 0.184 mg/m3 which was found to exceed the recommended OEL of 0.1 mg/m3 as indicated by the DoL. Results from this study confirms occupational exposure to crystalline silica, which is a well-established hazard in mining, therefore, use of personal protective equipment should be recommended.
Keywords: occupational exposure, crystalline silica, coal dust, exposure levels.
Martha Chadyiwa Chadyiwa currently works at the Department of Environmental Health, University of Johannesburg. Martha does research in Qualitative Social Research and Quantitative Social Research. Their current project is 'Health Impact Of Backpack Load on Primary School Children In Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng.'.