Dust-caused respiratory diseases in industries such as mining and roles including stone-cutting are a pressing threat to workers' health and safety. This has lead to a spate of laws over the past few years designed to ensure employees' risk of these potentially deadly conditions is reduced as much as possible. Indeed, the New South Wales regulations aimed at the coal industry recently had their effective date moved forward.
There is a massive catch, however: The coronavirus pandemic that has spent the past few months working its way around the globe has disrupted supply chains and production in all industries. Will workers be able to protect themselves effectively from dust-based conditions when there is another respiratory disease wreaking havoc on the world?
International Mining recently reported on the situation regarding mining employee protection in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A company that produces chemicals used to suppress dust in mining stated that despite the general disruptions affecting supply chains around the globe, it would still be able to deliver its products to Australian mines.
The publication acknowledged that facing the recently tightened regulations around dust disease prevention has created a high level of demand for equipment around the mining sector. While state governments are in charge of their individual dust disease regulations, multiple parliaments have enacted new laws within the past year and a half.
The dust disease prevention products in question are chemical additives that keep dust from entering the air at high rates. They are designed to keep both employees and nearby civilians from inhaling dangerous amounts of particles from the mines.
The continued availability of protective solutions for miners is especially important in NSW, where the coal dust standard is set to fall to 1.5 milligrams per cubic metre by February 2021. Safe to Work noted that not only is the regulation set to take effect far earlier than its initially planned date of December 2022, it comes with a diesel particulate matter standard of 0.1 milligrams per cubic metre. NSW is the first state to institute such a strict DPM standard for its mines.
While companies make moves to ensure compliance with new regulations, employees will now stand a better chance of staying healthy over lengthy stints of mining work. If you or a loved one has contracted a dust-based illness, whether in mining or another workplace, reach out to the experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners to help determine whether you can claim damages for the suffering these diseases can cause.