Queensland government invests $25M to protect coal workers from black lung

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Photo: hkgoldstein, Pixabay

The Queensland Government has committed to invest $25 million over the next two years to deliver more reforms to protect the health and safety of the state’s coal workers.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr. Anthony Lynham made the announcement on Friday as the government’s response was tabled in Parliament to the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee report no. 2 – Inquiry into the re-identification of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis in Queensland.

“The Palaszczuk Government’s focus has always been to eradicate this insidious disease that does not belong in the 21st century,” said Dr. Lynham.

“As I told Parliament this week, we have worked tirelessly to rapidly implement significant reforms to date.

The government supported all the report’s 68 recommendations including the establishment of an independent regulator; improved oversight and enforcement of respirable dust monitoring; and improved health arrangements and workers’ compensation and rehabilitation for workers.

“Our government will invest another $21.051 million over two years – this financial year and next – on top of our existing commitment of $3.737 million to achieve this,” said Dr. Lynham.

“Due to the complexity of some of the recommendations, we believe addition analysis and consultation is required to implement those recommendations.

“The Government will continue thorough consultations on these specific recommendations.

“This work will occur in parallel with our ongoing work on the 18 Monash recommendations, which are all either implemented or well advanced.”

Some of the reforms that have already been implemented include:

  • coal miners’ compulsory chest X-rays being assessed at least twice; firstly, by an Australian radiologist and then by US-based experts. By the end of this year, the second check will be done in Australia by qualified B-reader Australian radiologists
  • coal mine workers receive compulsory health assessments when they enter the industry while working and when they retire
  • a new recognised standard for underground respirable dust control, to help mines identify key areas of dust generation and assist with managing the risk of worker exposure
  • respirable dust monitoring results from Queensland’s coal mines being published online quarterly, with the first results already online

a register of appropriately qualified and experienced doctors, spirometry practitioners and X-ray imaging clinics to offer health services to coal miners

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