68 recommendations in limbo
200 person mining health, safety, testing and research station for Mackay?
Wednesday 31 May 2017
Reduced coal dust limits, the development of a Mining Health and Safety Authority in Mackay employing 200 people, a review of Workcover, and better training for health professionals were the headline recommendations of a State Parliamentary enquiry into Black Lung in Queensland.
The committee comprising Labor, LNP and Independent politicians tabled a report this week making 68 recommendations for the management of Black Lung after spending nearly a year touring Queensland’s coal mining areas, hearing 50 different submissions at 40 public and private hearings.
The chair of the committee, Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller, said there were catastrophic failures at every level.
"There has been a failure in relation to the doctors, the radiologists, at almost every level — the radiologists, in particular, cannot walk away from this scot-free," Ms Miller said.
"There has been 30 years whereby the doctors have been asked to look after the coal miners' health, and they have failed catastrophically as well as the Department [of Health].
"The failure in relation to the health scheme is something that every single officer of that department should be ashamed about.
"We will be working out what has happened in relation to this catastrophic failure."
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union is pushing for the adoption of a recommendation that the coal dust exposure limit is reduced from the current from 3mg/m3 of air down to 1.5mg/m3 of air on Queensland mines.
The Queensland Resources Council has welcomed the recommendations but says it would like more detail on the proposal that any changes to Black Lung management be funded out of royalties paid by mining companies to the State Government.
Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham says he won’t consider acting on the recommendations until he has read the report in full.
In the interim, Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller Says she will present new legislation to parliament later in the year establishing a new health scheme for coal miners.
Under that plan, they will get free medical assessments, and underground miners will be urged to get check-ups every three years, while open-cut, railway and port workers will be told to get a health check every six years.
Various law firms have begun circling, suggesting there could be grounds for a class action against mining companies.
21 miners have so far been diagnosed with the disease in Queensland.