The mining production process is exposed to a series of different hazards. One of them is the accumulation of dust which can pose a serious threat to the life and health of mine workers. The analysis of dust hazard in hard coal mining should include two aspects. One is the risk of coal dust explosions, which poses a direct risk of injury or even loss of life, the second is the risk of harmful dust, associated with the possibility of negative health effects as a result of long-term exposure to dust in the worker’s body. The technologies currently applied in underground mining produce large amounts of coal and stone dust. Long-term exposure to dust and crystalline silica may cause chronic respiratory disease. The article presents the results of tests on the dust levels in the area of a fully-powered longwall. The tests were conducted for five longwalls from different hard coal mines. In each of them, the average values of inhalable and respirable dust as well as the percentage content of free silica in the dust were determined in ten selected working positions. Additionally, for the longwall with the highest dust concentration, the levels of dust were determined for the basic activities related to the phases of the technological cycle. The comparative analysis conducted and the results obtained demonstrate large variations in the dust levels in the different areas. The permissible values were significantly exceeded in a number of cases. This poses a great threat to the health of Polish miners. The results obtained indicate that it is necessary to undertake more effective measures in order to improve the working environment of the crew in hard coal mines.
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