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Dust Control and Sampling

Information for Miners

What is Dust Sampling?

Dust sampling is the process of using sensitive equipment to take samples in the mine atmosphere.

The ultimate goal of operator sampling activities is the prevention of occupational diseases, like PNEUMOCONIOSIS. 

2 types of pneumoconiosis we are most concerned with in the mining industry are Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis (CWP or “Black Lung”) and Silicosis.

5 factors which contribute to the development of pneumoconiosis are composition of the dust, concentration of the dust, size of the particles, duration of exposure, and individual susceptibility.

Are You at Risk for Overexposure?

Some jobs expose miners to more dust than others. Some tasks that are known for being “dusty” are:

  • Baggers
  • Crusher Operators
  • Drillers
  • Maintenance and Utility Workers
  • Mobile Equipment Operators
  • Stonecutters

Prevention Is Key!

Pneumoconiosis cannot be reversed, but there are ways to prevent or lessen your exposure:

  • Don’t dry sweep.
  • Keep work area clean.
  • Use water or a vacuum system with a remotely located exhaust or a HEPA filter.
  • Report any maintenance issues right away.
  • Work upwind of dust clouds or dusty areas.


What are Your Rights?

As a miner, you have the right to:

  • Air free of harmful levels of respirable coal mine dust.
  • Training on: 
    • dust controls in the mine’s approved ventilation plan.
    • the sampling procedures required to accurately monitor dust levels. 
  • Dust controls in the mine’s ventilation plan operating as specified. 
  • See the operator’s dust sampling results (posted on mine bulletin board).
  • NIOSH-approved respirators when working in excessive dust.
  • Request an MSHA inspection when:
    • excessive dust levels are suspected.
    • required dust controls are not used or maintained.
    • the operator’s dust sampling is not done properly.

Pump Placement

Proper placement of the pump is vital for accurate sampling. Here are things to remember:

  • Clip pump to belt opposite your dominant hand.
  • Clip assembly head to shirt collar.
  • Attach hose clip to shirt and place excess hose out of the way.

What is Dust Fraud?

Any action that attempts to manipulate sampling data so that dust levels appear lower is sampling fraud. Some recent consequences of dust sampling fraud are:

  • Job loss
  • Fines
  • Prison terms
  • Home confinement
  • Supervised release

If you suspect or are asked to participate in dust sampling fraud, MSHA has your back! To report an accident or hazardous condition at any time, call 1-800-746-1553.

Too much to remember? No problem! Download MSHA’s “Miner Safety & Health” App FREE for iOS and Android. You can use the app to know and understand your rights and responsibilities, to search and use best safety and health practices, and to receive notifications of accidents in the mining community – and how to prevent them. You can even call the Hazardous Condition Complaints hotline from within the app in just a couple of clicks, so download the app today