Safe Work Australia (SWA) has recommended significantly reducing exposure limits for silica and coal dust as part of its ongoing overhaul of workplace airborne contaminants, and is now seeking public comment.
The move is part of SWA’s ongoing evaluation into Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants to ensure they are based on the highest quality evidence and supported by a rigorous scientific approach.
In oder to prevent coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, SWA are recommending a TWA of 0.9 mg/m3 for respirable dusts of bituminous and lignite coal, and 0.4 mg/m3 for respirable dusts of anthracite coal.
In order to protect from fibrosis and silicosis, and the risk of lung cancer, SWA are recommending that respirable crystalline silica be cut from a TWA of 0.1mg per cubic metre to 0.02mg. It says all data indicates that chronic exposure above 0.02 mg/m3 is associated with “radiographic changes in the lungs.”
The national regulator is specifically seeking comments of a technical nature regarding the toxicological information and data that the value is based upon, and the measurement and analysis information provided.
Comments close on 30 April 2019, and must be made through SWA’s consultation platform Engage.
Draft evaluation reports and recommendations for the remaining chemicals will be released throughout 2019.