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May 2018 – Identifying high risk areas and occupations in surface mining for respirable crystalline silica

The Coal Services’ Health & Safety Trust project aims to identify areas and occupations in surface mining that are at high risk of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) exposure and use the findings to develop an evidence-based health surveillance guideline for the Australian coal industry.

In the period April 2017 to March 2018, a targeted monitoring program has been undertaken at 31 open cut and coal handling prep plant operations in NSW and has returned 455 samples for respirable crystalline silica.

The results will be compiled and interrogated to determine the true risk profile for a perceived ‘at risk’ similar exposure group (SEG). This will quantify the levels of exposure to respirable coal dust and respirable crystalline silica that surface mine workers could potentially be exposed to when conducting tasks already known to offer a higher risk profile.

Health surveillance programs can then be tailored to their risk profile and evidence-based education and control strategies developed as appropriate.