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New workplace coal dust standard commences in Queensland


30 September 2022

From 1 October 2022, the workplace exposure standard for respirable coal dust) will be halved in Queensland, revised from a time weighted average of 3 milligrams per cubic metre (mg/m3) down to 1.5 mg/m3.

Respirable coal dust can be generated and made airborne during a number of work processes using coal, such as:

  • breaking, crushing or milling of coal
  • coal combustion processes
  • handling and transport of coal and coal fly ash
  • storage/stockpiling of coal
  • shutdown maintenance activities
  • housekeeping and cleaning of workplaces where coal is used.

Businesses that work with coal will need to:

  • review existing dust controls and procedures to make sure they meet the new standard and keep workers safe, particularly any business using coal fired boilers (such as coal fired power stations and refineries)
  • continue to meet existing requirements for air and health monitoring, as well as providing appropriate training and respiratory protective equipment.

Workers must:

  • take reasonable care for their own health and safety
  • comply with any reasonable policy or procedure from the business for keeping safe from coal dust exposure at work
  • wear any appropriate personal protective equipment provided by the business, so far as they are reasonably able to, in accordance with training, information and reasonable instruction.

We have established the Managing respirable dust hazards in coal fired power stations code of practice 2018 to provide clear, enforceable standards for industry. We are also investing $5m for medical research that improves the health and wellbeing of Queensland workers with occupational dust lung diseases like coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and silicosis.

Further information

The Managing respirable dust hazards in coal-fired power stations Code of Practice 2023 (PDF, 0.88 MB) provides more information on the requirements for duty holders in coal-fired power stations.