Miners act on unacceptable dust exposures

While the focus for many has been on the reduction of dust exposure limits across Australia, experts from Australia’s leading professional association for occupational hygienists challenge the mining sector to shift its attention to the effectiveness of dust controls implemented in the workplace.

Improvements to mine dust control have continued to roll in as state governments and institutions put a spotlight on dust exposure.

Respirable coal and silica dust regulatory limits in Queensland and New South Wales are now set at 1.5 milligrams per cubic metre and 0.05 milligrams per cubic metre, respectively.

Western Australia is set to cap its respirable coal dust exposure to 1.5 milligrams per cubic metre starting October 2021, and has halved the respirable silica dust exposure standard to 0.05 milligrams per cubic metre.

New South Wales, a state with sprawling coalfields, will be the first mining jurisdiction in Australia to apply a diesel particulate matter exposure standard of 0.1 milligrams per cubic metre in February 2021.

Further reduction of the respirable silica workplace exposure standard (WES) to a lower value on paper does not mean that more miners will be protected, Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) secretary Sharann Johnson says.

“Miners are protected when companies implement and maintain effective controls to comply with the current standard,” she tells Safe to Work.

“If companies are not complying with the current standard how do we expect them to comply with a lower standard?

Read this feature in full on Safe to Work’s website.

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