This paper aims to determine the impacts of coal mining on the health of workers and a health program to prevent the workers from the effects of the coal which includes the risk assessment, required legal actions, monitoring of the health program, activities involved to implement the program. This paper act as a preventive guide to coal mine workers and may useful in curing the effects brought by coal.
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This paper will examine worker’s health that is being exposed to the different types of negative respiratory effects due to working in coal mine. A new health program is discussed to deal with the life- threatening impact of coal mining on its workers. This program is developed by studying Cook Mine, Queensland, located in Australia. The Bounty Limited Company is operating this mine and known for its goal which is to be the safest, lowest cost, and most profitable mining company. This paper will solely base its information on reliable sources and also from primary source of information. This paper aims to determine which hazards are most likely to affect the health on an individual. This report also aims to develop a way to solve the problems that will be distinguished throughout the paper.
Cook is an underground mine used to extract the coal. It situated in the southern Bowen Basin, Queensland. The cook mine generates cooking and thermal coal. This brand is well known for cooking coal. The mine infrastructure consist coal storage and handling of these products. There are two coal seams; Argo and castor seam. Argo seam is about 15 to 20 meters above the Castor seam (Cook). The underground mine is equipped with fans, access drift, rising conveyors, run of mine stockpile infrastructure, electricity supply, warehouse, workshop, bathrooms and administration building. Its mining rate is more than 2.2 mt per year. According to the recent report, 266 employees are working in the cook mine as December, 2019. Most of the workers are aged between 25 to 44 years. Working hours of employees are depending on their position in the company. It varies from 9-10 hours/day but to meet the organization goals before the deadlines, sometimes they work far more than that (Cook Colliery)..
Mining of coal has various effects on the health of the coal miners. The factors that modify these impacts of the coal mining on the health of people are the following: the way it is mined, the emission control in the place and the measures used to control its impact. (Selvey, L., 2014).
Different hazards of coal mining include Injuries due to an accident, respiratory diseases due to dust and intoxication, disease caused by high temperature and hearing impairment caused by noise and vibration of heavy machinery (Laney & Weissman, 2014). These impacts may not just hurt them just physically but these may also cause various psychological disorders, and psychosocial risks (Carlisle & Parker, 2004).
Exposure to dust and chronic gas intoxication is crucial health hazard in a coal mine. Coal mining has two types of operations: surface and underground mining. According to Gorman & Cagle (2018), Underground coal miners have more exposure of coal dust than the surface due to greater dust levels in the lower setting. So, the underground coal mining workers are most vulnerable to the exposure of coal dust.
Explosion and blast used during coal mining, cause gas poisoning among the workers. Abnormal amount of gaseous chemical in the air cause oxygen deficiency which is leading problem in the miners and it affects the breathing and efficiency of the work. Constant exposure to carbon monoxide resulted as insomnia and amnesia in the coal mine workers (Castranova & Vallyathan, 2000).
Impact of coal mine on respiratory system is associated with additional risks. The major purpose of the respiratory system or the lungs is to transport oxygen into nearest contact with blood so that air may diffuse into and carbon dioxide out of the blood (Empey, 1978). The respiratory system, when at risk, may also lead to illnesses such as, silicosis, bronchitis, CWP and emphysema. Coal miners develop more complicated patterns of the disease due to constant exposure of dust (Petsonk, Rose, & Cohen, 2013). Another dangerous disease occurred as a result of prolong dust inhalation is Pneumoconiosis. Breathing in Poor air quality is the cause of the pneumoconiosis. Silicosis is the dangerous form of pneumoconiosis. It is caused by inhalation of silica particularly found in coal mines. Asbestosis is also caused by the Asbestos dust found in mining setting and leads to malignant tumor. These diseases reduce lung volume and air exchange (Castranova & Vallyathan, 2000).
Coal mine dust sources a range of lung diseases communally called Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease (CMDLD) (Laney & Weissman, 2014). While CMDLD remains to be tricky, the action or treatment for CMDLD is symptomatic. Those with end-stage illness are only having a treatment option as lung replacement because CMDLD is the type of respiratory diseases that is life-threatening and cannot be cured in advance stage.
Surveillances on coal miner show the unfavorable changes in respiratory system of the coal miner. These radiographic transformations lead to pneumoconiosis and other respiratory disorders (Petsonk, Rose, & Cohen, 2013).
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999, applies on everyone who is capable to affect the health of a person who are working at coal mine or an individual whose health may affected during mining operations (Coal Mining Safety and Health, 2010). According to the Australia Mining Law, the requirements in order to conduct commercial mining would be a lease. In order to apply for a lease, there are required paper works and standards that would ensure the safety of the people. Before allowing a mining company to begin operation on a specific area, research on probable cases is conducted (Benton, 2018). Employees are mandatory to undergone a training for risk management.
Globally 25000 coal miners died due to CWP in 2013 and 6 cases were found in Queensland in 2016 (Zosky, Hoy, & Brims, 2016). Investigations found that poor occupational setting and excess dust exposure in mines is responsible for these deaths. This kind of incidence can be prevented by acquiring a health and safety program which has strict regulations and guidelines for the safety and health of the coal miners (Petsonk, Rose, & Cohen, 2013). Recently, a study reveals that a numbers of coal miners are suffering from pneumoconiosis. This situation also raises the sense of urgency to develop an updated health program for the safety and health of the workers. The required changes in the current health program has mentioned in health program as recommendations (Zosky, Hoy, & Brims, 2016).
From the last decade, the Australian mining company has started to analyze and investigate the use of a systematic safety step to reduce the fatality rate. They have emergency plans including evacuation during any emergency. The risk and management program has become an integral part of any new and continuing task. Workers are assigned to a facilitator who is appropriately skilled (Joy, 2004). The facilitator will then make sure that the team assigned to his or her care will learn the step by step process in risk management and evaluate the team individually to identify if they were effective and consistent throughout the whole process. With all liabilities that might occur in the setting, many companies have embraced the four-stage process approach to minimize the chances of being hurt and accidents in an uncertain surrounding (Joy, 2004). The stages were a requirement made by the Occupational Health and Safety Acts, State Coal Mines Regulation Acts, Environmental Protection Acts and protection against litigation from accidents. These steps include: classifying the risk, examining the risk, controlling the risk, and applying and monitoring measures (Coal Mining Safety and Health, 2010).
As mentioned in the program portfolio, the prime goal for this program is the early detection of CMDLD in coal miners who are currently working and who has left the job.
A trained respiratory specialist should be available in coal mines (Zosky, Hoy, & Brims,2016).
Investigation of CMDLD should be conducted in current and former coal miners
Monitoring the trend of CMDLD by analyses and surveillances
Inform the industry and government about the dust exposure level in coal miners (Kurnia, Sasmito, & Mujumdar)..
Review of principal hazard management plans and standard operating procedures (Malcolm, Deborah, & Ryan, 2016).
Overall, this program is aims to distinguish the factors of various diseases and to use the gathered data as a base for prevention and treatment of the respiratory diseases.
The given objective can be achieved by following steps:
Safety and health obligations should be imposed on the operator of coal mines or who is able the affect the health of the workers at coal mines.
A management system will provide for the safety and health of the workers at coal mines which will be able to manage these risks significantly (Coal Mining Safety and Health, 2010).
A safety and health advisory committee will be established to develop the strategies for improving the health and safety of coal mine workers (Malcolm, Deborah, & Ryan, 2016)..
A routine health assessment of the workers will be done and data will be recorded electronically (Laney & Weissman, 2014).
Effectiveness of this program will be monitored by appointing health inspectors and the surveillance (Malcolm, Deborah, & Ryan, 2016)
Work structure will be change according to the safety of coal mine workers. So they can run operation safely (Zosky, Hoy, & Brims, 2016).
A satisfactory emergency plan will include in the program. So, during any sudden gas intoxication predetermined actions can execute. (Malcolm, Deborah, & Ryan, 2016).
This new health program will not just distinguish the harmful effects the coal mine on respiratory system but will also help to tackle the leading issues. This program is a complex plan which may cater different type of needs, such as specialized medical facilities for the coal miners, free checkups and seminars would also be given for a specific time of the month. The main features of this health program are:
Early detection of CMDLD in the coal mine workers by providing screening
Appropriate follow-up after the screening, there will be specific guidelines for follow up the patient (Zosky, Hoy, & Brims, 2016).
There must be separate respiratory department which assess the all health component of the respiratory system.
There should be separate respiratory health form which will contain the all respiratory history of the workers and included questionnaire regarding respiratory health (Petsonk, Rose, & Cohen, 2013).
The onsite doctor should have a training session on mine site and must have acquired great experience in the respiratory health system (Malcolm, Deborah, & Ryan, 2016).
More advanced drills will be conducted to deal with any accidental gas exposures with coal miners and other workers on mine site.
Measures to reduce the exposure to dust in mining, such as workers should be more educated about the respiratory health and using the preventive equipment (Kurnia, Sasmito, & Mujumdar).
This program will not only promote a healthy environment in an underground, it would also mold the workers to gain the knowledge, not only about mining’s negative effects, but about the prevention as well. This program will also monitor the affectivity of the applied measures and regulations (Selvey, 2014).
Surveillance is an important constituent of a health program to apply it successfully. Data of every worker will be stored including their working hours, leaves, extra hours and days worked. Data from surveillance will be interpreted cautiously (Malcolm, Deborah, & Ryan, 2016).
The lung health of workers will be monitored using radiograph. Along with the radiographs, spirometry will be used to evaluate the effects of interventions. A respiratory system questionnaire which will include symptoms and the respiratory history will be administrated during each examination (Laney & Weissman, 2014). Gathered data will be used to compare and contrast to acknowledge the effectiveness of the program. In order to keep track of the progress, meetings, seminars will be conducted (Alberg et al, 2013).
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Coal mine workers are exposed to coal mine dust which cause various disease and collectively known as CMDLD. The spectrum of these diseases is broader and includes silicosis, pneumoconiosis and CWP. A proposed health program is able reduce the duration and the level of dust exposure and able to solve other health related issue faced by coal mine worker during mining. This program is more than to educate the people and spreading awareness. This program also seeks to be a preventive tool. By applying this program, workers in coal mining can be prevented from negative effects of coal mining especially on their respiratory system.
- Alberg, A. J., Brock, M. V., Ford, J. G., Samet, J. M., & Spivack, S. D. (2013, May). Epidemiology of lung cancer: Diagnosis and management of lung cancer, 3rd ed: American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest, 143(5), e1S-e29S.
- Carlisle, K. N., & Parker, A. W. (2014, December). Psychological distress and pain reporting in Australian coal miners. Safe health work, 5(4), 203-209.
- Castranova, V., & Vallyathan, V. (2000, August ). Silicosis and Coal Workers’ pneumoconiosis. Environment Health perspective, 108(4), 675-684.
- Coal Mining Safety and Health act 1999. (2010, April 21). Retrieved June 3, 2019, from www.legislation.qld.gov.au: https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/inforce/2010-04-21/act-1999-039
- Cook. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2019, from www.mininglink.com.au: http://mininglink.com.au/site/cook
- Cook Colliery. (n.d.). Retrieved May 25, 2019, from www.bounty.com.au: http://www.bounty.com.au/Operations/CookColliery
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