From November 1, clause 89 of the Queensland Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017 will be amended to reduce the exposure limit for respirable dust in coal mines from an average of 3mg per cubic metre over eight hours, to 2.5mg.
The government also committed to reviewing the system next year with the view of reducing the exposure limit further.
CFMEU mining and energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said the move would save lives by reducing future cases of mine dust lung disease, but that much more was needed to diagnose and support workers already suffering from mine dust lung diseases such as ‘black lung’, silicosis and emphysema.
“Tragically, poor management of dust levels and medical assessment of workers has seen a sharp rise in workers being diagnosed with chronic and fatal mine dust lung disease.”
“The only way to reduce the future incidence of mine dust lung disease is to cut the levels of dust workers are exposed to and we are pleased the Queensland Government has listened.”
CFMEU Mining and Energy members have been heavily campaigning for changes to dust levels ever since coal workers’ pneumoconiosis was re-identified in the State three years ago.
In addition to lowering dust levels, the CFMEU is campaigning for:
- Independent medical assessments and respiratory checks for mineworkers.
- Independent dust monitoring in mines by Simtars (Queensland’s Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station).
- Mobile health units to provide X-ray, spirometry and other assessments.
- Legal protection for affected workers’ employment.
- A victims assistance fund to cover mine dust lung disease victims’ medical costs and compensation.
- Recognising mine lung dust disease deaths as work-related fatalities.