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.

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.