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Partnership Cuts Down Dangerous Dust From Road-Milling Machines

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Gary Fore, a now retired vice president of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), Lanham, Md., leads a voluntary partnership of asphalt-paving industry organizations that is researching and recommending ways to cut down the amount of silica dust generated by asphalt-milling machines in advance of federal safety and health regulations.

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Though Fore retired from NAPA in September, he remains active in helping lead the Silica/Milling Machine Partnership, a group developing design guidelines that manufacturers can use to build better dust controls into machines that grind off asphalt pavements. The partnership also is creating guidelines that will help workers cut down dust in milling operations.

“The goal is to determine exactly how much silica-containing dust asphalt-milling machines generate and to minimize workers’ exposure to it,” says Fore.

“We’re all focused on the benefits to worker health and on cooperating toward that goal,” says partnership chairman Tony Bodway of paving contractor Payne & Dolan, Waukesha, Wis. He says getting together all the stakeholders as a group to address the issue is key.

Fore put together a complex partnership of industry stakeholders to study airborne silica dust and reduce worker exposure in road-milling operations.

In addition to NAPA and Payne & Dolan, the group includes the Association of Equipment Manufacturers; the operating engineers’ union and laborers’ union; the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health; and the milling-machine manufacturers Caterpillar, Roadtec, Terex, Volvo and Wirtgen America. Although not an official member, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also participates.

Fore brought the group together in early 2003, when NIOSH asked for help in addressing the silica issue. A similar partnership led by NAPA and Fore had previously worked with NIOSH in the 1990s to cut down the fumes workers breathed at the rear of asphalt pavers.

“Gary’s been at the table right from the beginning,” says Russ Hutchison, AEM’s technical and safety consultant. “Without Gary, we wouldn’t be here having the success we’re having today.” NAPA’s openness has been “refreshing,” says Emmett Russell, director of safety and health for the operating engineers’ union.

The group’s latest field tests, conducted last August, evaluated more than 16 combinations of nozzle types, water pressures, flow rates and other aspects on five milling machines as they ground off miles of asphalt roadway. The technologies were refinements of designs selected after the last round of tests, in 2008.


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