Gladstone Ports Corporation.
Gladstone Ports Corporation. CHRISSY HARRIS

Gladstone Port responds to coal dust concerns in inquiry

THE return of black lung disease in Queensland has forced Gladstone Ports Corporation to identify measures to reduce workers' exposure to coal dust.

The latest Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis Select Committee report includes a series of recommendations to reduce coal dust exposure for workers in the supply chain from mine to port.

The initial inquiry was expanded after it found rail and port workers were also exposed to dust particles.

In evidence offered to the inquiry, Gladstone Ports Corporation worker of 28 years Mark Zerner said he was concerned wearing respirators was not mandatory and about the effectiveness of coal sprinklers used to restrict coal dust.

"In the past six to eight months they have moved and built another building completely away from the pits to get us out of that environment but we still have to go into that environment to jackhammer trains or clean down and do things like that, so there are still a lot of dust issues," he said.

Mr Zerner said lots of work had been done to mitigate coal-dust exposure but said there was "room for improvement".

The corporation said it mitigated coal dust exposure by pressurising the dump station control and restricting access to the dump station.

The company also hired an occupational physician and occupational hygienist two years ago to conduct assessment of coal dust and crystalline silica dust exposure.

They found risk of exposure to coal dust for workers at RG Tanna was "insignificant".

Strategies recommended for Queensland's six ports, two of which are in Gladstone, included identifying sources of high-risk exposure, establishing a benchmark of dust production per tonne and installing controls to mitigate dust production.

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