Late last year, the New South Wales government announced it would implement new rules for how much coal dust could be expelled in mining efforts. Originally, the plan was to implement those new standards toward the end of 2022, but NSW recently announced that it would move that standard up to February 2021, instead.
The state already has the most stringent rules around respirable dust in Australia, and they are being further tightened with this move, according to Australia's Mining Monthly. Currently, NSW rules allow coal dust to be released in quantities of 2.5 milligrams per cubic metre, and it has been that way since 2004. The new rules cut that amount to 1.5 mg/cu.m in just over eight months.
In announcing the decision, NSW resources minister John Barilaro noted that while the coal industry is a critical part of the state's economy, it's also vital to make sure workers and miners at the sector's facilities are more protected from dust diseases – including black lung, also known as pneumoconiosis. It also appears as though the state will not stop there when it comes to imposing new regulations on coal dust in the future.
At the same time as the new coal dust rules go into place, the NSW government will also enact new standards to boost diesel particulate matter standards to just 0.1 mg/cu.m.
While the decision to move up the new standards by nearly two years may sound like a great leap, it follows more than a decade of work with the mining industry to determine new standards, according to Safe to Work. Further updates to these rules – including the one relating to diesel particulate, which is the first of its kind at the state level in Australia – will be made after consulting with the NSW mine safety advisory council.
That group is comprised of all stakeholders, including companies, unions representing workers, and the government.
If you believe you or someone you know has been adversely affected by dust disease, it's important that you get in touch with the legal experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners as soon as possible. We can walk you through the various options that may be available to you with a free consultation, as well as explain the benefits of our No Win No Fee service.