Qld halves workplace exposure limits for coal dust

Wednesday, 05 October, 2022

Qld halves workplace exposure limits for coal dust

The workplace exposure standard for respirable coal dust has been halved in Queensland, revised from a time-weighted average of three milligrams per cubic metre (mg/m3) down to 1.5 mg/m3. Respirable coal dust can be generated and made airborne during a number of work processes using coal, such as coal combustion processes, shutdown maintenance activities, housekeeping and cleaning of workplaces where coal is used, and the handling and transport of coal and coal fly ash.

Businesses that work with coal need to review existing dust controls and procedures to ensure that they meet the new standard and keep workers safe, particularly any businesses that use coal-fired boilers (such as coal-fired power stations and refineries). Businesses must also continue to meet existing requirements for air and health monitoring, as well as providing appropriate training and respiratory protective equipment.

Workers must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and comply with any reasonable policy or procedure from the business for keeping them safe from coal dust exposure at work. Workers must also wear any appropriate personal protective equipment provided by the business, so far as they are reasonably able to, in accordance with training, information and reasonable instruction.

WorkSafe Queensland has established the Managing respirable dust hazards in coal fired power stations code of practice 2018 to provide clear, enforceable standards for industry. WorkSafe is also investing $5 million in medical research that improves the health and wellbeing of Queensland workers with occupational dust lung diseases like coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and silicosis.

Image credit: iStock.com/rudi_suardi

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