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Sources of dust and contributing factors

From 1 September 2020, the occupational exposure limits (OEL) for respirable dust and respirable crystalline silica (RCS) are 1.5mg/m3 and 0.05mg/m3 respectively. Find out more about the exposure level review.

Dust particles are generated and can become airborne during many of the extraction and processing activities associated with producing and processing rock and mineral products.

These activities include:

  • drilling
  • blasting
  • excavating
  • loading and tipping
  • transporting
  • crushing, conveying and screening
  • cutting and sawing
  • stockpiling
  • bagging
  • cleaning and maintaining fixed and mobile plant.

Mine workers can be exposed to dust particles that differ in chemical composition, such as:

  • dust containing crystalline silica
  • coal dust
  • dust containing metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic
  • asbestos.

The geology of the rock and mining activities to extract and process the rock will determine the type and quantity of dust particles generated.