RR1126 - In-cab air filtration in plant vehicles to control exposure to hazardous dust: quarry industry example

Tackling occupational lung disease is a priority for HSE. In-cab air filtration systems are installed on plant vehicles used in a wide range of industries where drivers can potentially breathe in hazardous airborne dust, such as farming, waste management and quarrying. Plant vehicles include tractors, diggers, dumper trucks, excavators and mechanical shovels. However, little is known about the effectiveness of in-cab air filtration as a control measure. This report describes research to develop this evidence; the research was carried out with the support of the quarry industry as a representative sector.

The research looked at the factors that influence the effectiveness of in-cab air filtration systems throughout their operational lifecycle, including system design, in-service use, and maintenance. The research included developing a new scientific method to evaluate filtration system efficiency whilst a vehicle is being driven.

The research found: penetration of hazardous dust into vehicle cabs; some vehicle cab filters of low efficiency; and that staff had variable knowledge about the effectiveness of in-cab air filtration and the level of protection it afforded. The research identified practical steps that industry can take to improve protection of workers. Improved understanding of good practice for in-cab air filtration systems is needed by vehicle designers and manufacturers and within the sectors using the vehicles – including the importance of filter maintenance and ensuring that drivers are made aware of the actions they need to take.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-16