Jun 30, 2016

Black lung picture gets bleaker

Black lung picture gets bleaker

Another Queensland coal miner has been confirmed with coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, making eight ‘black lung’ cases officially identified since May 2015.

A 55-year-old underground coal mine worker is the latest case confirmed by the State Government.

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines said the man had worked at a number of mines in the Bowen Basin and was a coal mining industry veteran of 20 years.

A respiratory physician who was assessing the worker for another chest condition diagnosed early stage CWP.

New research centre

The news came as an Occupational Health and Safety Research Centre focusing on work-related health issues was launched in Mackay by Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan and Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen.

“The centre aims to reduce the incidence of death, illness and injury, including black lung disease,” Mr Christensen said.

“The Occupational Health and Safety Research Centre will provide cutting edge research and innovation capacity which will focus on illnesses, injuries and deaths in key regional industries, like the resources and agriculture industry.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen (right) with Dr David Farlow from JCU at the centre launch.

“Mackay, as a coal mining centre, and as a hub for the mining services industry, is the right location for such an endeavour.”

The centre will be housed in the James Cook University/Mackay Base Hospital Education and Research Centre.

‘Tip of the iceberg’ says union

Word of the eighth case of Queensland black lung disease has been out since May, when CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Queensland District President Steve Smyth said the union was aware of at least 12 cases.

Mr Smyth said each diagnosis sent shockwaves through the workers and the community, and predicted this was just the tip of the iceberg.

THE CFMEU says the cases are only coming to light due to the application of the strict ILO (International Labour Organisation) standards to read x-rays and application of the B-Reader process by experienced, trained and competent radiologists.

A confirmed case is where a positive identification of coal worker’s pneumoconiosis has been reported to the Health Surveillance Unit of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines by the coal mine worker’s nominated medical advisor or other medical expert and validated by the department’s occupational physician.

The department said yesterday that the Queensland Government was progressing its five-point action plan to address the re-emergence of CWP.

For more information on that initiative click here.