NSW enforces stricter dust exposure standards

New South Wales has lifted its exposure standards for respirable coal dust and diesel particulate matter (DPM) in the workplace starting this month.

The DPM standard of 0.1 milligrams per cubic metre is first enforced in New South Wales this month after a 12-month transitional period.

Mining operations in the state are also subjected to a coal dust exposure standard of 1.5 milligrams per cubic metre of air.

Companies are required to monitor the concentration of air contaminants in line with the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 legislation and notify the regulator should an exceedance occur.

The regulator intends to work with mining companies to develop planned inspection programs focussing on the management of DPM.

It is also mulling over the introduction of DPM exceedances as a notifiable incident.

“We are committed to ensuring that the New South Wales mining industry understands its obligations and our expectations,” the New South Wales Resources Regulator stated.

“We expect that all mine operators will actively work toward reducing exposure to diesel particulate emissions, not only below the prescribed maximum, but to as low as reasonably practicable.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified DPM as carcinogenic to humans in 2012.

“Where a risk of worker exposure to diesel particulate is identified, mine operators should undertake personal exposure monitoring of workers,” the regulator stated.

“The monitoring frequency and methodologies of an exposure monitoring program should be determined by the risk.”