Ernst & Young and The University of Queensland were engaged by RSHQ to conduct a baseline review of occupational health risk data relevant to the resources sector in QLD. This included RSHQ supplied data, information from other regulators and government departments, peer reviewed literature, interviews with RSHQ staff members and other relevant data sources. This review is intended to inform the priorities and strategies for the regulation and surveillance of occupational health risks within the sector.

This report provides an outline of the review findings of the current state of knowledge on each health risk, the data available and gaps that exist, and the current approach to regulating and providing guidance on each health risk discussed in this report. It is also intended to focus on the information most pertinent to the Queensland resources sector and is not a comprehensive systematic review of each risk.

All the health risks identified in this review are significant and important to measure, monitor, and further control. The order of the chapters in this report is alphabetical so as not to suggest that any particular risk is more important than another. We recommend RSHQ expand the focus of its health surveillance remit to encompass all the risks identified in this review. ‘Surveillance’ in this case includes reviewing any accessible monitoring data, tracking trends in data in government-run health assessment schemes, and to continue its hygiene monitoring activities of conducting targeted health risk assessments, and reviewing the effectiveness of health risk controls as part of mine entry inspections.

To make this work as effective as possible, there is a requirement for systems and processes to collect these data sets, where there presently is not any available. The research team is aware of plans to update data collection and management systems (including the replacement of Lotus Notes, and the introduction of the new ResHealth system). This review highlights the importance of thorough requirements gathering, taxonomy design, and a sound data collection and usage strategy, to ensure the success of any new digital system.

Psychosocial health risk is one area for which minimal data currently exists (e.g. the increased risk of developing a mental health diagnosis and/or committing suicide). This is a priority action area for Safe Work Australia, is a focus of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, and has been the subject of several reports and publications produced by Australian resources sector regulators. There was minimal evidence reviewed which suggests that this area has been a focus for RSHQ in the past, however the risk is recognised to contribute significantly to chronic worker ill health. Collecting data to better inform the extent of this risk, and the effectiveness of controls in place to manage the risk, is highly recommended.

This review includes the analysis of the data available for occupational exposure to respirable dust, silica dust, diesel particulate matter (DPM) and blood lead data. This covers both the Coal and Mineral Mines and Quarries (MMQ) groups and the dust data is further broken down by Similar Exposure Group (SEG)

Baseline Review of Occupational Health Risks Report | Resources Safety & Health Queensland (PDF, 16.6 MB)

This project sits within the MISHC Dust and Respiratory Health Program.