On 28 January 2022, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) granted Buchanan Mine #1 the option to use a revolutionary new device called the CleanSpace EX Powered Respirator in the working faces of our coal mine. This is industry leading as there are no powered respirators currently approved in the United States.
While the CleanSpace Ex is an intrinsically safe device approved for use in other countries, Buchanan Mine #1 had to file a Petition for Modification with MSHA during 2021 to utilise the device at our working faces. This application required provisions including weekly permissibility on each unit, user checks, record keeping, specialised training, and specific measures that are to be taken that are exclusive to the CleanSpace EX.
The CleanSpace Ex is a positive pressure respirator that provides respiratory protection by drawing in ambient air through a battery powered fan. As the air enters the unit, it goes through a filter, which prevents particulates from entering the air supply. The air is then propelled to the users breathing zone allowing them to breathe as they would normally.
As opposed to the CleanSpace EX, traditional filter masks such as the N95 are negative pressure, tight fitting respirators that operate by creating a tight seal along the users face and ambient air is filtered through the mask material by the wearer’s lungs.
However, the benefits far outweigh the provisions:
- Very high protection from coal mine dust and silica
- No fogging of glasses or masks
- No restriction to breathing
- No hoses, belts or waist mounted battery packs
- Reusable and cost effective
- Under most circumstances, its comfortable and easy to wear over long periods of time
As with any new safety apparatus introduced to the workforce, there are varying degrees of opinions concerning the CleanSpace Ex and its limitations. We are working diligently with the manufacturer to improvise and configure the CleanSpace Ex so the unit is more comfortable to the user.
As of 25 February 2022, 47 CleanSpace Ex respirators have been assigned.
57% – Longwall 19% – Outby 17% – Development section 3% – De-Gas
The management at Buchanan Mine #1 has made the decision to make a CleanSpace Ex and consumables available to every employee if requested.