Dust buster may detect coronavirus

A PERSONAL dust extraction device designed to protect workers from dust-borne diseases such as silicosis and coal workers’ pneumoconiosis can also alert them to elevations in their temperature.
Dust buster may detect coronavirus Dust buster may detect coronavirus Dust buster may detect coronavirus Dust buster may detect coronavirus Dust buster may detect coronavirus

The Bat Booth can also measure a worker's temperature.

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Elevated temperature is one possible warning sign that a worker may be infected with COVID-19.

Mideco developed the Bat Booth to use compressed air to blow dust off contaminated clothing.

The booth is fitted with high-efficiency particulate absorbing filters to trap the dust.

The entire dust removal process takes about 15 seconds.

The booths have gained popularity in the quarrying sector and miners are starting to show interest in the booths.

Mideco has fitted its booths with medical-grade temperature sensors to measure workers' body temperatures and worked with Pulse Mining Systems to allow the booths to communicate with miners' systems.

The temperature measurement monitoring was originally aimed at identifying heat stress.

Mideco managing director Melton White said he had been speaking at a conference in Denver, Colorado last year.

Another speaker, from US organisation the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was talking about heat stress.

White realised the potential for using the Bat Booth to help identify whether employees' temperatures were starting to rise.

"We have people voluntarily getting into a piece of equipment three to five times a day," he said.

"Why don't we measure them for heat stress?"

That led to him working on trying to get the booths to measure body temperature. The discovery of off-the-shelf medical grade temperature sensors helped solve that problem.

Those sensors can pick up 0.1C variations in temperature and conduct a measurement in a fraction of a second.

Not long after the temperature measurement conundrum was solved White came across Pulse Mining Systems at a mining conference.

He realised the Pulse approach could help him link the booths into miners' and quarry operators' enterprise resource planning systems.

That way the miners would have a record of who had used the booths and when, and also, be warned if a worker's temperature was abnormally high.

The two companies formed a strategic alliance to take the idea further.

Pulse CEO and managing director Ashley Bosworth said because the booths took temperature measurements from workers several times over a shift, it could identify trends in that worker's body temperature.

Because Pulse can interface the booths with the mine or quarry systems, management can be warned that a worker's temperature is starting to rise.

Pulse has set up business information dashboards to help managers get great visibility over workforce health.

Remember, this was aimed at picking up early indications of heat stress, which if gone undetected can have dire consequences for the sufferer and also potentially, their workmates.

Heat stress can diminish a worker's decision making abilities, leading to potential safety issues.

Elevation in temperature is a sign of heat stress.

It turns out, elevated temperature is also one of the warning signs of a COVID-19 infection.

White said the Bat Booth had initially proved popular with quarries and was starting to gain traction in the mining space.

He said the company had been receiving orders for one or two of the units from mining companies, only to have that followed up by orders for another 10 once they had put them to use.

Mideco recently set up a manufacturing facility that White said would let it treble its production capacity.

While the temperature monitoring is proving valuable, White and Bosworth are looking at other health data to monitor through the booths.

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