NSW mining health and safety conference to tackle black lung

Efforts to combat the potential resurgence of black lung in NSW is one of the major focuses at NSW Minerals Council’s 2016 Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) conference.

Launching today, in the NSW Hunter Valley, the three-day conference will discuss a range of health and safety issues in the mining industry.

It will feature presentations and discussions from industry leaders and government, including the CFMEU, and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Dan Gregory, CEO of The Impossible Institute, will also deliver the keynote address on creative engagement; how delegates can effectively engage with colleagues, the community, regulators, and other businesses.

With the growing number of coal mine workers diagnosed with black lung in QLD, and claims from the CFMEU that a former miner has already died as a result of complications of the disease, the issue surrounding preventative measures will be scrutinised at the event.

A revised booklet on mine dust mitigation will be launched at the conference. Coal Services chief executive and managing director Lucy Flemming said the Protecting Against Airborne Dust Exposure in Coal Mines booklet is the seventh edition, having first been published in 1966.

She added that NSW standards related to black lung were set by four state government standing orders that required Coal Services to work in conjunction with coal mining companies on ways to minimise dust, enforce control techniques, and monitor worker health.

“The robust nature of the legislation and diligence of the dust monitoring and environmental standards in NSW coal mines has allowed us to help protect mine workers’ health and keep lung diseases such as pneumoconiosis at bay,” she said.

“Preventative measures carried out by Coal Services, such as periodic health surveillance, chest x-rays, education and personal dust exposure monitoring, have also helped to ensure the health and safety of NSW coal industry workers.”

Coal Services Occupational Hygiene and Compliance manager Mark Shepherd highlighted that efforts to minimise airborne dust-related health risks should continue, adding that off the 2817 dust samples they collected across the NSW coal industry, only 27 had exceedances.

One of Australia’s leading dieticians, Dr. Trent Watson from Ethos Health, will also launch the NSW mining industry’s obesity management and reduction blueprint at the event, outlining a plan to help workers remain healthy.

The conference will also host the HSEC Awards, celebrating the best examples of practices, systems, programs, and innovations in the state’s mining industry.