Dust exposure management requires more than PPE use

Dust exposure can pose a serious threat to the health and safety of workers in surface coal mines.

While the use of masks may seem protective, it is not always enough to prevent hazardous dust particles from entering the lungs.

There are several ways site senior executives can ensure the correct safety measures are taken, according to Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy (DNRME).

A mine site senior executive is required to produce a safety health and management system (SHMS), which includes strategies for dust control.

Eliminating dust exposure is the most effective method of control, but senior site executives can also use dust suppression sprays and filtration systems to combat dust particles.

These systems include water cannons and sprinklers, which saturate the surface area to prevent dust particles from becoming airborne.

Respiratory equipment should not be used as a primary method of dust control, according to the DNRME, and is the least effective method of preventing dust exposure.

The Queensland Government highlights coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), or “black lung” as one of the major respiratory diseases associated with inhaling coal dust.

Limiting worker exposure through safety health and management systems can stop the disease in its early stages if the methods for prevention are applied correctly.