The Queensland Mines Inspectorate is working with underground coal mines to proactively reduce personal diesel particulate matter exposure.
In 2017, 52 exceedances of diesel exposure level were recorded overall, which is a total exceedance rate of 4 per cent – a significant improvement over the exceedance rate of 12 per cent recorded in 2016.
Chief inspector of mines (coal) Russell Albury said, “Our analysis shows that historically Queensland’s coal mines have generally operated within the occupational exposure limits, but some mines have occasionally recorded mean exposure results which exceeded prescribed limits.”
“Longwall moves continued to account for the majority of single exceedances in 2017.”
Although longwall operations only happen periodically throughout the year, some contractors move from mine to mine to participate in longwall moves.
Effectively, these contractors are exposed to higher levels of diesel particulate matter compared to other workers.
The Queensland inspectorate is now focusing on conducting structured inspections, aimed to manage diesel exhaust at all underground operations, and drawing emissions-based maintenance programs to drive level of exposures down to as low as reasonably achievable.
The inspectorate has also developed a workers fact sheet to assist sites with understanding the effects of exposure to diesel particulate matter and to help control exposure.
Albury encouraged underground sites to continue reviewing their exposure data and implement controls to keep exposure to a minimum.