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.
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.
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.
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.
By the end of the project we expect to:
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.
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.
By the end of the project we expect to:
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.