Author(s): F. Made, NB Kandala, D. Brouwer
Source: Annals of Work Exposures and Health, 2021; wxab030, https://doi.org/10.1093/annweh/wxab030
Objectives: Globally, several strategies for compliance testing and within-group exposure variability have been suggested. This study aimed to evaluate the performance of the South African Mining Industry Code of Practice (SAMI CoP) approach for grouping and compliance testing against international standards.
Methods: A total of 28 homogenous exposure groups (HEGs) with 728 underground coal mine workers’ eight-hour time-weighted average coal dust concentration data were obtained. Compliance testing was assessed using 10% exceedance above occupational exposure limit (OEL) for SAMI CoP, and the 95th percentile of the lognormal distribution was computed for the European Standardization Committee (CEN) and American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). Comparison of the homogeneity of the HEGs was done between SAMI CoP which mandates that both the arithmetic mean (AM) and 90th percentile must fall in the same exposure band to certify homogeneity and the global geometric standard deviation (GSD) and Rappaport ratio (R-ratio) with specific acceptability criteria. To test the homogeneity of exposure within job titles, eight non-homogenous HEGs that have two or more job titles with three measurements were investigated using GSD and the SAMI CoP criteria.
Results: A total of 21 HEGs out of 28 were non-compliant to the OEL across SAMI CoP, CEN, and AIHA criteria. Compliance to the OEL was observed for seven HEGs according to the SAMI CoP approach, whereas only one HEG was compliant according to both the SAMI CoP and CEN approaches. The GSD criterion and SAMI CoP revealed that 11 and 6 HEGs were homogenous, respectively, and only on 4 occasions, the 2 approaches agreed. The job titles of the majority of non-homogenous HEGs in both SAMI CoP and GSD were actually homogenous. Five out of 10 sub-groups have their AM above that of HEG B. Other HEGs had at least one of their AM and 90th percentile values above that of their respective parent HEGs.
Conclusions: All three approaches mainly confirmed non-compliance of HEGs. SAMI CoP tended to show compliance of HEGs more than CEN. Non-homogenous HEGs had many job titles that were homogenous according to both SAMI CoP and GSD criteria. There was no perfect agreement of homogeneity by all the indicators. For both future constitutions of HEGs as well as a retrospective assessment of high exposure groups, homogeneity can be improved by using job titles.
Keywords: Code of Practice; exceedance criteria; indicators of homogeneity; occupational exposure limit