Coal Dust Monitoring Group
committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government establish a National Coal
Dust Monitoring Group comprised of representatives from mining companies, state
governments, technical experts and industry stakeholders such as mining unions,
and that it urgently undertake an analysis as to the cause of the serious and
widespread breaches of dust mitigation measures in the industry. Following the
analysis, the National Coal Dust Monitoring Group should develop and implement
a work program for effective coal dust mitigation measures aimed at the
immediate reduction of coal mine workers' exposure to harmful levels of coal
committee recommends that Safe Work Australia reviews current coal dust
exposure levels and the current Australian and international academic and
industry literature on the safest possible workable threshold for exposure to
coal dust, with a view to developing a best practice national maximum exposure
level. Safe Work Australia should report its findings to the National Coal Dust
Monitoring Group, including whether the exposure level should be measured as a
dust load of milligrams per tonne of coal cut, as distinct from time weighted
averages for exposure.
committee recommends that all Australian States and Territories adopt the
national standard for coal dust exposure. The standard would then be subject to
regular review by the National Coal Dust Monitoring Group, with the review
being based on dust reading and disease data provided by the mine regulators in
committee also recommends that in the short-term, coal mining companies adopt
the lowest Australian level (2.5 mg/m3) for coal dust exposure until
a national standard has been agreed upon and implemented with a more rigorous,
independent testing regime instigated as soon as practical in Queensland.
committee recommends that until the national standard has been developed and
adopted, state governments advise mining companies that coal workers should be
withdrawn from areas subject to unsafe dust levels without penalty. In
addition, the Queensland government and the Department of Natural Resources and
Mines should instigate a process of formal warnings followed by naming in a
public register for non-compliant companies, along with additional sanctions
committee recommends that mining companies operating in Queensland, in
consultation with the Queensland Government, technical experts and industry
stakeholders, urgently employ more effective coal dust mitigation measures to
immediately reduce coal mine workers' current exposure to coal dust.
dust monitoring in Queensland
light of emerging problems identified in the mining industry the committee is
concerned that safety standards in all jurisdictions may not be providing a
safe working environment for mine workers. The committee therefore recommends
that the state governments identify best practice dust monitoring devices or
similar best practice technology to be used in all Australian coal mines. The
Queensland government should review the protections provided under the Coal
Services New South Wales model and identify which aspects should be applied to
any new legislative regime in Queensland.
committee also recommends that the state governments require that dust
monitoring be undertaken in a consistent and methodical way, which monitors
dust levels in all relevant parts of the mine during both maintenance and
committee also recommends that state governments increase public transparency
and accountability around dust monitoring. Dust monitoring data should be made
publically available as a means of increasing accountability and restoring coal
mine workers' confidence in the regulatory system.
Database of coal dust suppression
committee recommends that the proposed National Coal Dust Monitoring Group in
consultation with mining companies, state governments, technical experts and
industry stakeholders, and with the support of Safe Work Australia, create and
manage a database of best practice dust suppression techniques and management
of dust sampling data. This would enable coal mining companies to continuously
improve their safe work practices and provide increased protection for coal
committee recommends that the establishment of the database, and its day to day
running costs, be funded by the state government and the coal mining industry.
committee recommends legislation requiring mining companies' input on, and
compliance with the database must be instigated at both federal and state
committee recommends that the National Coal Dust Monitoring Group, and state
based bodies, also facilitate cross-jurisdiction information sharing about coal
dust mitigation measures.
Best practice dust control forum
committee recommends that, in addition to the National Coal Dust Monitoring
Group, the Queensland Government, in consultation with mining companies,
technical experts, unions, and industry stakeholders, form a standing dust
committee or similar forum, in the near to medium term, to achieve best
practice dust control in Queensland coal mines and to address the concerns
raised about the current mitigation and monitoring issues.
for former coal mine workers
committee recommends that the mining industry, through its representative
bodies, must create an industry-wide fund to provide compensation for coal mine
workers who contract CWP. The fund's aims should include identification of, and
communications with former mine workers who may require CWP screening and
compensation for travel, medical, and other costs associated with undergoing
CWP screening and diagnosis. Workers' access to compensation from this fund
should not be time-limited in any way.
committee also recommends that state governments provide a means for former and
current miners to seek assistance which is independent of their employers and
Nominated Medical Advisors such as a hotline or helpdesk, to be funded by the
industry and independently administered by an organisation such as the Lung
Government's review of regulations
committee recommends that the Queensland Government gives the highest priority
to its review of coal dust regulations as part of its five point action plan.
To achieve this the committee recommends that the Queensland Government take
note of the concerns expressed by the committee in relation to the mine
Directives, particularly the enforcement of these Directives and the need for
the information contained within the Directives and rates of compliance to be
able to be audited and reported on. Directives issued by government departments
should use standardised language and have a rigorous process for auditing,
compliance, and data collection.
committee recommends that the Queensland Government direct relevant officials
to undertake independent, high level, training on avoiding regulatory capture.
committee recommends that in developing this training the Queensland Government
have regard to the Better Practice Guides developed by the Australian National
Audit Office in relation to regulatory capture.
Nominated Medical Advisors
4.78 The committee recommends that
in the short term the Queensland Government mitigate the risk of regulatory
capture of the Nominated Medical Advisors by making the role an independent
statutory position, selected through a rigorous process conducted by Queensland
Health in consultation with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines and
specialists groups such as the Thoracic Society and the Lung Foundation.
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