The Department of Labor (DOL), specifically the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), should modify, streamline, expand or repeal 30 CFR § 56.13020 Use of compressed air, which currently prohibits the introduction and utilization of technology designed and developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to safely clean dust-soiled work clothes. Contaminated worker clothing has been identified as a source of exposure to respirable dust. This technology affords a quick, safe and effective method for workers to clean their dust-soiled clothing periodically throughout the workday. The technology has been shown to be more effective in removing dust from workers’ clothing than methods currently used by workers. The cited regulation is drafted in an overly broad fashion, effectively prohibiting the voluntary use of this improved clothes-cleaning technology.
The referenced clothes-cleaning technology safely removes dust from a worker’s clothing without exposing the worker, the work environment, or co-workers to increased health and safety concerns. The system consists of four major components: a cleaning booth, an air spray manifold, an air reservoir, and an exhaust ventilation system. Before entering the cleaning booth, the worker must don an approved, fit-tested, half-mask respirator with HEPA quality filters, hearing protection, and full-seal safety goggles. Upon entering the cleaning booth, the worker activates a start button, spins slowly in front of an air spray manifold, which takes approximately 18 seconds, and then exits the booth with clean clothing.
A NIOSH-produced video demonstrating this clothes-cleaning technology can be accessed through the following hyperlink: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/products/product21.htm. The clothes-cleaning technology was developed by NIOSH and is not covered by patent. To our knowledge, the clothes-cleaning technology currently is in use in Australia, Canada and Taiwan and should be available for voluntary use in the United States.
Allowing voluntary introduction and use of this clothes-cleaning technology would represent a win-win-win situation for workers, employers and the agency.