Fritz Djukic – Inspector of Mines (Occupational Hygiene), Department of Natural Resources, Mines & Energy
In May 2015 the first confirmed case of mine dust lung disease (MDLD) in the Queensland Coal industry in over 30 years was reported to the mines inspectorate. A number of cases followed that typically related to underground coal mine workers with extensive exposure history in Queensland, interstate and abroad. In October 2016 the first surface coal mine worker was confirmed with MDLD proving this hazard was not isolated to underground mines. The reidentification of MDLD in Queensland prompted several extensive reviews of the health surveillance system and the respirable dust regulations. This resulted in significant regulatory reforms around exposure monitoring, reporting requirements and the establishment of a central exposure data base.
In January 2018 the Chief Inspector of Coal Mines requested all surface coal operations to provide personal exposure monitoring data collected since the introduction of the risk based legislation. This paper reviews exposure data collected from Queensland surface coal mines and wash plants during the period 2001 – 2017.
Specifically the paper discusses:
• Mean exposure trends across various similar exposure groups for respirable coal dust and respirable
crystalline silica (RCS)
• Personal monitoring programmes and sampling rates
• High dust exposure tasks and single exceedance data
In addition, the study draws comparison with exposure data collected from Queensland coal mines during the eighties (80’s).
Nikky LaBranche – Principal Mining Engineer, Simtars
Since the first case of CWP in over twenty years was reported in Queensland in 2015 there have been 66 confirmed cases of mine dust lung disease among current and former QLD mine workers. As a result ACARP commissioned research into a number of questions relating to monitoring and controlling coal dust exposure.
The project had a number of aims which include the following areas: 1) establishing the state of the art with respect to current dust suppression and prevention controls and their effectiveness. 2) Reviewing the basis used for setting an exposure standard for respirable coal dust 3) The current trends in exposure data and any underlying points of concern or interest 4) current research into reducing exposure to respirable coal dust. 5) The capacity to monitor respirable coal dust in real time – what techniques are available and what are their limitations and 6) Future directions for research into better control of respirable coal dust exposure.
The research seeks to answer these questions and better define the next questions for future research. This paper will present the progress results of the Improving Respirable Coal Dust Exposure monitoring and Control research project.
Use of compressed air to blow out or “clean” electrical cabinets is a routine maintenance task across the Queensland Coal Industry. Elevated levels of harmful dust can engulf the blow out operator for extended periods and increase the risk of developing lung diseases including Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis and silicosis.
In 2017 the Queensland Mines Inspectorate reported that approximately 50% of all respirable dust and Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) exceedances in surface coal mines was directly related to the use of compressed air for cleaning down enclosures and equipment during maintenance activities.
Respiratory protection has historically been viewed as the primary control to protect the health of blow out operators as dust controls at the engineering level or above have not been considered to be feasible.
Blow out of electrical cabinets on Komatsu 960E haul trucks have been targeted for an engineering dust control project at Hail Creek Mine. The project has focussed on the following areas:
• Sealing of cabinets
• Application of positive pressure
• Local exhaust ventilation / vacuuming
• Identification of alternative cleaning methods
• Measurement of control performance
This paper describes the dust control project along future direction for application of common principles to other equipment such as draglines and excavators.