Skip links and keyboard navigation

    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
    The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham

    Black lung protections outlined in Parliament

    Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
    The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham

    Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Black lung protections outlined in Parliament

    Critical reforms have been made to protect the health of Queensland’s coal mines, and more are scheduled this year, Queensland Parliament heard today.

    Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham told Parliament that the reforms to the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme had been recommended by an independent expert review.

    “Black lung does not belong in the 21st century and this Government has thrown the kitchen sink at this issue,” he said.

    “Since July 2016, the chest x-rays of Queensland coal mine workers have been checked by a Queensland radiologist to the ILO standard and then double-checked by a US-based B-reader.

    “As of 17 March, almost 5000 x-rays have been sent to the US. Remember, there are 5228 underground miners in this state.

    “By July we will be phasing-in a Queensland-based system to read those chest x-rays twice. A tender is being called next month to source a Queensland-based provider for radiologists to dual read x-rays to the ILO standard.

    “Since 1 January, a number of changes have been enshrined in law.

    “All underground coal mine workers must undergo a health assessment that includes respiratory function testing and chest x-ray, when they enter the industry and every five years thereafter.

    “All above-ground coal mine workers must undergo a chest x-ray and respiratory function test at least once every 10 years. 

    “Mining companies must provide dust monitoring data to the Mines Inspectorate every three months and the first set of results will be published online in June.

    “Black lung is now a notifiable disease, meaning mining companies must report known cases to the Mines Inspectorate.

    “Coal mine workers permanently retiring from the industry will now have the right to a full retirement health assessment, including respiratory function and chest x-ray examination. 

    “And, a retired miner can have their x-ray checked through our dual reading scheme if they or their GP contacts my department. This will be a right as soon as I can bring legislation before the house and this is a priority.

    “By July, Queensland will have stringent guidelines in place that spell out what is required of people conducting spirometry tests – the lung capacity tests that are a critical element of our screening regime.

    “Next month I will have an agreed process for clinical diagnosis of CWP. This has been developed by medical experts, including US expert Dr Bob Cohen, and will give greater certainty to workers and their families.

    “DNRM will have an electronic health record system in place by the end of this year. This will enable coal mine workers, current or retired, to access their own health records, irrespective of where they live and work.

    “It also means that doctors will have better information and contractors, working for multiple employers, no longer require multiple medicals or x-rays.

    “A new health assessment form will be in place by midyear to ensure we capture appropriate information for health surveillance.”

    His comments were made during proceedings around the interim report of the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee.

    Dr Lynham acknowledged that the committee’s work had raised potential issues.

    “These issues may warrant closer scrutiny so that we can learn valuable lessons from the past,” he told the House.

    [ENDS]          

    Media inquiries:           Jan Martin 0439 341 31