With the help of Envirofluid, a major Australian mining company identified and mitigated a major health risk and sustainability hazard associated with its rail operation. In line with emerging national WHS standards it achieved this result at the top of the risk control hierarchy by substituting dangerous products with safe ones thus removing the threats entirely.
By substituting Butyl Cellosolve based products with Triple7 Heavy Duty, Envirofluid’s client has ensured that the potentially long-term health effects of Butyl Cellosolve were averted before they could take hold.
By removing serious toxins from the working environment this immediately improved morale resulting in increased output. By averting long-term health issues the company has also protected itself against potentially damaging and expensive legal issues and industrial action.
By substituting the toxic cleaner with a more powerful and safer alternative the company has removed health risks and hazards associated with the use of high-pressure cleaners. This has enabled them to use safer cleaning methods, and avoid the need for complicated and clumsy PPE measures.
The cleaner waste water has also allowed further innovation in enabling it to be re-used for other activities around the site, increasing their environmental image and the sustainability of the Pilbara operations.
& how we got there …
The mining company involved operates a number of train services transporting ore from its mining operations to various ports for export. As part of the regular maintenance rail equipment workers are required to clean dust and oils from trains and carriages using pressure cleaners and chemical cleaning agents.
The previous regime employed a common chemical agent, which due to the atomising effect of the high-pressure cleaner on hot train surfaces, was being inhaled and ingested by workers.
It was also determined that, aside from the immediate symptoms, exposure to Butyl Cellosolve can have serious long-term health effects.
The company was also looking to improve oil water separation in the wash down area, in view of reducing huge oily water disposal costs. The chemical reaction of conventional degreasers form strong emulsions with oil which are then difficult to separate with oil water plate separators which work on the principle of phase separation.
How do you efficiently clean hot Pilbara dust and oil off mining trains without serious health risks to workers, and simultaneously improve the condition of the waste water?
The Hazards : Toxic Butyl Cellosolve
Butyl Cellosolve is a toxic agent used in many industrial and domestic cleaners – many of which claim to be non hazardous. It is absorbed through the skin and lungs causing a variety of health issues depending on the level of exposure.
Potential symptoms: Eye, nose, throat and skin irritation; cough; hemolysis, hematuria, anemia; central nervous system depression, dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, unconsciousness; headache, vomiting; pulmonary edema; eye redness, pain, blurred vision; liver and kidney damage; INGES ACUTE: Abdominal pain, diarrhea; nausea; metabolic acidosis; SKIN ABS.
Health Effects: Irritation-Eyes, Nose, Throat, Skin—Mild (HE16); Blood disorders, anemia (HE12); CNS effects—Narcosis (HE8). It may also damage a developing fetus.
Affected organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system, CNS, hematopoietic system, blood, kidneys, liver, lymphoid system, reproductive system.
The other significant hazard to the business was the ongoing cost of disposal of oily water, which was proving expensive and unsustainable, adding to maintenance, personnel, and compliance costs.
The Solution: Triple7 Heavy Duty
Triple7 Heavy Duty was substituted in place of the current cleaning agent.
Triple7 is a powerful bio-based cleaner and degreaser that is free of any hazardous and toxic ingredients. This product was simply spray applied to the surface, without the need for a pressure washer, to clean dust and oil from the trains. The workers found that by using Triple7 Heavy Duty it improved their health while increasing performance and safety. No special PPE equipment was required; they used less product and were not affected by toxic fumes.
Their oil water separator performance was also vastly improved. Envirofluid’s client will never need to pay the huge oily water disposal costs again, and the water quality is of a standard which allows them to use it for dust suppression! Triple7 Heavy Duty does not form an emulsion with the greases and oils, but lifts and releases at the surface for easy removal and allows for true and complete separation.