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‘Characterising the biological effects of particulate matter exposures in coal mining to protect and improve the health of workers’

Expected Results:

At present, it is not clear how the existing standards for safe workplace exposure to coal dust have been generated, with the literature and the evidence upon which they are based pre-dating current mining practices. The advancement of coal technology, from the coalface to techniques of preparation, has not been replicated and/or complemented by a consistent development of supporting guidelines for safe exposures to PM along the handling and transportation chain.

It is unknown if Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) protocols appropriately incorporate the levels of exposure to different types of coal dust (e.g. fines and tailings). Coal dust type will differ (e.g. chemical elements and compounds) due to coal seam composition variation and mining method (e.g. long wall vs open-cut mining). Coal dust type will also have different levels of effects on respiratory health, depending on the dust constituent properties, concentration and duration of exposure.

We will address these important issues and define improved, evidence-based standards for safe exposure to different types of coal dust in Australian mining sites and transport and handling corridors. We will do this by characterising the biological and health effects of exposures to different types and levels of coal dust found in the workplace, from the mining source to the port and including all handling and transportation operations, with the goal of informing new regulations for re-defining risk, early identification of effects and safe PM exposures for coal and associated workers.

Ref Number
20649
Professor Phillip Hansbro, University of Newcastle
Start date
Estimated end date
31 December 2020

‘Obesity and NSW Coal Mining’

Expected Results:

This research will provide evidence of the extent of the problem of overweight and obesity within the NSW coal mining industry. It will provide information on the current situation with regards to the management of overweight and obesity within the NSW Coal Mining industry at a site level, with an understanding of what weight management initiatives have been trialled, how these have been received by employees, how they have been evaluated and measured and what outcomes have been achieved at a site level.

This research will provide valuable information about the challenges and benefits of current weight management initiatives within the NSW Coal Mining industry. This will inform implementation of appropriate programs, with a shift from an ad hoc site by site approach to engagement of key stakeholders in developing a coordinated, comprehensive, industry wide approach to the management of overweight and obesity in the future.

Ref Number
20648
Associated Professor Carole James, University of Newcastle
Start date
Estimated end date
31 December 2018

‘Development of Automated Diagnostic Tools for Pneumoconiosis Detection from Chest X-Ray Radiographs’

Expected Results:

The expected results of the proposed project include a prognostic software package which can be used for the automatic mass diagnostic screening of chest X-ray radiographs to detect, evaluate and monitor pneumoconiosis. Given the black lung can continue to progress after coal dust exposure ceases and severe symptoms can emerge up to 15 years later, early detection and tracking the progress of pneumoconiosis are important for taking measures and precautions, and treating the complications caused by the disease. It is expected that the results produced from the proposed software package will be comparable to experienced radiologists, thus potentially hastening vital diagnosis and treatment capabilities.

Ref Number
20647
Dadong Wang, CSIRO
Start date
Estimated end date
31 May 2019

‘MATES in Mining’

Expected Results:

MATES in Construction has been well evaluated and been found to; have high social validity within the construction industry, improving knowledge around suicidality as well as promoting increased help seeking and help offering. The program has been associated with reduction in suicide rates in the Queensland construction industry against the state trend over the same period. This project will test the transferability of MATES in Construction to the mining industry as an ongoing industry based and run mental health and suicide prevention program. Program evaluation will focus on showing improved mental health, help seeking and help offering as well as improved mental health literacy amongst the workforce. The project will also seek to show reduced stigma around suicide and mental health issues generally across the industry.

Ref Number
20644
Jorgen Gullestrup, MATES
Start date
13 November 2017

Estimated end date
31 January 2020

‘Managing whole-body vibration associated with underground coal mining equipment’

Expected Results:

By the end of the project we expect to:

  • Develop and evaluate iOS and server software which will allow continuous monitoring and analysis of earth‐moving equipment operator vibration exposures; and.
  • Utilise this information to obtain an enhanced understanding of the sources of elevated whole-body vibration and impact loads associated with haul truck and dozer operations at surface coal mines. The iOS and server software will be made freely available for download.
Ref Number
20643
Robin Burgess Limerick, University of Queensland
Start date
Estimated end date
31 January 2019

‘Identifying areas and occupations in surface mining that are at high risk of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) exposure and using the findings to develop an evidence based health surveillance guideline for the Australian coal industry’

Expected Results:

To be able to quantify, through a targeted monitoring program, the levels of exposure to respirable dust and RCS that surface mineworkers could potentially be exposed to when conducting tasks already known to offer a higher risk profile. A very small percentage of annual statutory monitoring captures these activities and this targeted program will address this identified gap in our data and understanding. By partnering with CSH during this program, an enhanced and focused health surveillance system will result.

Ref Number
20642
Mark Shepherd, Coal Services CMTS
Start date
02 December 2016

Estimated end date
31 July 2018

‘Respiratory Protection: Do PAPRs adequately protect workers against DPM?’

Expected Results:

The research will determine whether currently utilised powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) effectively filter out Diesel Particulate Matter and provide worker protection; by challenging PAPR filters used in mining workplaces with DPM; and by measuring the EC and the sizes of particles that are penetrating the filters to determine whether that poses an additional health risk for workers.

Ref Number
20641
Jane Whitelaw, University of Wollongong
Start date
02 December 2016

Estimated end date
31 July 2018

‘Reducing the impact of back pain in miners’

Expected Results:

By the end of the project we expect to:

  • Have developed a risk prediction model (screening tool) to identify miners at risk of persistent low back pain and understand the impact of health risk factors on this condition in the mining industry.
  • Understand the challenges and facilitators of integrating the screening tool to link those at risk of persistent low back pain to a telephone-based prevention program.
  • Understand the potential effectiveness of the screening and prevention program on pain coping abilities and health risk factors in those at risk of persistent low back pain.
  • Have worked with the relevant stakeholders, including Coal Services, NSW Ministry of Health, and organisations, to develop a model to implement the program industry wide.
Ref Number
20639
Dr
Christopher Williams, Hunter Valley Research Institute
Start date
11 February 2016

Estimated end date
30 December 2016

‘Diesel-free environment for underground Coal Mines’

Expected Results:
  • Realisation of diesel-free vehicles for mining occupations. This will be a low speed battery powered vehicle that is explosion protected and designed for the important task of transporting both personnel and materials in underground coal mines.
  • A reference of pioneer vehicle that can be referred to establish other mining vehicles or mobile machines that range from low to high power requirements. Likewise, a standard evaluation procedures for all high energy density battery chemistries for applications in underground coal mining will be available.
  • A wireless charging technology that will be highly versatile in mining occupations since the evolution of electric-powered machinery in underground mines has become ever-increasing to meet the growing emissions, health and energy efficiency concerns.
Ref Number
20637
Khay See, University of Wollongong
Start date
22 September 2015

Estimated end date
31 July 2018

‘Mine emergency response system demonstrator’

Expected Results:

This project will examine and develop technology that can address information deficiencies following major mine incidents. Information during emergencies is increasingly seen as a critical issue and requirement for emergency response, both in terms of safely committing mines rescuers in high risk situations and also better equipping miners to self-rescue.

Ref Number
20640
Dr Gareth Kennedy, Simtars
Start date
02 December 2015

Estimated end date
31 December 2016