Black Lung response
Major change to Black Lung screening by years end
Wednesday 17 May 2017
Queensland coal mine workers will have access to world-class lung function tests as part of the efforts to eradicate Black Lung or coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) according to the state government.
Since its re-emergence two years ago, 21 Queensland miners have been diagnosed with the disease, prompting the State Government to review testing and safety standards of coal mines.
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham says the new accreditation and standards will be rolled out by the end of the year.
"The new standards will ensure quality tests, so if a coal mine worker has lung function issues, those signs will be picked up immediately," Dr Lynham said.
Lung function, or 'spirometry', tests are compulsory for all coal miners.
Since last July, miners' X-rays have been checked once in Australia and then double-checked in the United States, but both will be done here by 2018.
Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said it was pleasing to see the Monash reforms rolling out.
“The health and safety of coal industry workers is a top priority and industry has cooperated with government, unions and other stakeholders to ensure the recommendations from the Monash review are implemented,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“The spirometry test is a crucial examination to detect early changes in lung function, therefore it is vital the medical specialists who conduct them are accredited and trained to the highest standards.
“The government’s Monash review into CWP identified there were many faults in the previous system and previous advice the department, industry and unions were receiving from many medical specialists simply wasn’t good enough.
“Everyone involved wants to right the wrongs of the past, and we want to make sure that we detect cases, and this is a major step forward to correct what was previously deficient in the assessment of lung function."
Mining Union the CFMEU was so far unavailable for comment.