The risk of tuberculosis (TB) infection increases dramatically with silicosis, a form of occupational lung disease caused by inhaling crystalline silica dust, notes safety solutions company MSA Africa.
The Department of Health’s Tuberculosis Strategic Plan for South Africa says the country’s mining industry may have the highest incidence of TB in the world.
According to official statistics, for every 100 000 mine workers, about 3 000 to 7 000 are infected with TB.
Silicosis causes inflammation and scarring in the form of nodular lesions in the upper lobes of the lungs and is characterised by shortness of breath, coughing and fever and is widespread in South African mining communities.
In a major drive to combat this occupational hazard, MSA Africa has contributed 300 half-mask respirators, which are more effective than traditional dust masks, to platinum-mining end users.
MSA Africa Respiratory and Fire Helmets Product Manager Suraksha Mohun explains that a reliable face mask can mean the difference between life and death for those exposed to fumes, mists and hazardous gases daily.
“As a result, the drive by MSA Africa to promote its Advantage range of half-mask respirators started in 2012,” says Mohun.
The Advantage is an effective and innovative range that features reusable cartridges.
“Currently, a large number of mines use dust masks that only last for a single eight-hour shift, and which present the opportunity for contaminants to sneak in.
“The MSA Advantage half-mask is highly cost-effective as its cartridges are not only replaceable, but can last anything from a week to a month-and-a-half,” Mohun adds.
The Advantage range is available in different sizes, ensuring an almost perfect fit to keep out harmful contaminants.
“In order to ensure a guaranteed face seal, the half-mask conforms to one’s unique facial characteristics,” Mohun continues.
It provides flexibility in usage, and has a filter programme to protect against harmful particles or gases.
Due to the highly humid conditions underground, the Advantage range features moisture holes to release any water.
The Advantage half-mask can be used in other industries such as painting, welding, sanding and grinding, search and rescue, public events, industrial applications and asbestos reduction.
It can also be used by those working in the chemical, government, utilities, water treatment, petroleum (oil and gas) and construction industries.
Mohun concludes that MSA Africa places a high priority on safety education in industrial applications. “We want to empower industry to know there are options available that will protect people and help ease their jobs.”