The Standing Dust Committee has released the 2017 NSW Coal Airborne Dust Results Summary. The annual bulletin provides an overview of Coal Services’ statutory dust sampling results and observations taken from underground and surface operations.
Improvements were observed in operator positioning on continuous miners as well as spray maintenance on longwalls to control dust exposure levels. In underground operations, the following tasks were the most likely to result in elevated dust exposures: road header operators, secondary support/spraying crews, conveyor maintenance/inspections, shearer operator, continuous miner operator and longwall deputy.
Tasks requiring operators to conduct work outside of the cabin environment continues to remain the most likely situation resulting in elevated dust exposures in NSW surface operations. 2017 saw a large number of surface operations embark on a program of airborne dust worker education to raise awareness of the hazard of airborne dust and the importance of high standards in controlling dust.
Other tasks that were most likely to result in elevated dust exposure were blast crew, field maintenance crew and CHPP maintenance tasks. Sites need to encourage operators to carry respiratory protection and use it appropriately. The majority of surface operators monitored that returned an elevated result were not wearing respiratory protection.