Exposure assessment: a case study
Australian Institute of Environmental Health
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science
A survey of respiratory hazards and occupational exposures was conducted at a remote Australian cobalt and nickel mine and ore refinery. Samples of respirable dust and inhalable dust were further analysed for nickel, cobalt and quartz content. Sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and a variety of vapours such as toluene were also monitored. Workers were divided prospectively into similar exposure groups for survey purposes. Most of the employees on site were exposed to several contaminants, all of which have the potential to impact upon the respiratory system, necessitating the calculation of the hazard index. Exposure standards were adjusted for a 12-hour shift. A number of similar exposure groups were identified where workers were exposed to elevated levels of cobalt and/or nickel. Control strategies were recommended and based upon the exposure levels. A routine surveillance protocol was developed in order to monitor and manage respiratory hazards at the facility.