The Queensland Government is seeking stronger workers’ compensation protections for workers with black lung and associated dust diseases.
The proposed reforms were introduced by Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace in State Parliament on Wednesday with the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation (Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis) and Other Legislation Bill 2017.
“This Bill represents an important step forward in supporting Queensland coal workers, current and retired,” Ms. Grace said.
“It will ensure coal workers with any concerns about coal workers’ pneumoconiosis or a Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease can access a medical examination through the workers’ compensation scheme.
“Workers already have access to no fault statutory compensation through WorkCover, along with common law damages – and this is not limited by a worker’s employment status or age.
“The additional measures in this Bill go above and beyond this, to ensure any affected workers get their full and proper entitlements.
“There’s also provision for workers with a pneumoconiosis, including coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, to re-open their statutory claim to receive further lump sum compensation if their condition deteriorates.”
Ms. Grace said the Bill also introduces an additional lump sum compensation for workers diagnosed with a pneumoconiosis including coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, silicosis or asbestosis from working in a dusty environment.
“This recognises the nature of pneumoconiosis and ensures the scheme provides appropriate support to workers in meeting their future needs for monitoring, managing and treating their illness,” she said.
“The Bill also introduces mechanisms to improve the rigour of the electrical licensing framework by ensuring that the electrical safety regulator can obtain information about the competency of applicants for an electrical work licence.
“It will also allow the Electrical Licensing Committee to direct an existing electrical work licence holder to undertake a competency reassessment where there are reasonable grounds to believe the licensee may not be competent.
“The Bill also introduces provisions allowing the electrical safety regulator to immediately suspend an electrical worker’s licence in specific and extremely serious circumstances, in the interests of protecting the safety of others.
“These amendments are aimed at protecting workers and the general public whose safety may be affected by the electrical work carried out by licence holders.”
She also paid tribute to Michael and Lee Garrels, who have tirelessly campaigned for legislative change since they lost their son Jason to a preventable work-related incident in 2012.
“Jason’s Legacy will live on through this Bill,” she said.
“The reforms introduced today would have made a fundamental impact on the safety of the worksite where Jason lost his life.”