2000/113/4 Face mask, plastic, from Cooranbong Colliery, NSW, 3M, place of manufacture unknown, 
Compared to other jobs, mining is one of the most dangerous occupations in Australia. Mine safety is consequently a major concern for workers, unions, employers and governments.
Risks in underground coal mining include roof or wall collapse (what miners call a 'fall of ground'), the build up of toxic gases, or explosive concentrations of coal dust. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, miners have worn or carried equipment to protect them from, or alert them to, these dangers.
In 1999 the Cooranbong Colliery donated to the museum a full set of underground coal mine official's personal equipment as an example of the gear worn by each of its managers and undermanagers. Cooranbong Colliery, located at Dora Creek, New South Wales, is owned by Powercoal Pty. Ltd. It supplies coal to the nearby Eraring power station.
The set of equipment donated includes protective gear such as boots, a helmet with a lamp, and a self-rescuer (which provides breathable air in an emergency) that are worn or carried by all underground. It also includes gas monitoring equipment that is additional gear carried by coal mine officials to help them assess hazards and maintain a safe workplace underground.
The set of equipment donated included this face mask. Face masks like this one are sometimes used in mines to filter dust and other irritants from the air breathed underground.