Minister vows to protect coal miner workers

COAL dust reforms were underway as a government priority to protect the health and safety of coal workers, Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said.

Dr Lynham told Parliament that action was underway on changes to the regulation of coal dust, which causes coal workers' pneumoconiosis.

He said the Coal Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee of union, employer and departmental representatives was working as a priority on measures to tackle the re-emergence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP).

"The advisory committee is already working on a number of important actions, including regulatory changes to the dust monitoring system," he said.

"It will develop minimum training and experience standards for nominated medical advisers.

"Further, I am very keen to see more transparency on dust monitoring, and I want the committee to look very carefully at how this can be achieved.

"I encourage all the advisory committee members, including the CFMEU, to continue to examine all of the evidence, and work together to provide me with full, frank and considered advice.

"I commit to act swiftly, in consultation with all parties, and to take whatever action is required to protect the health and safety of our coal miners."

Dr Lynham said:

  • Departmental inspectors were taking "firm action" with a mine which exceeded regulated dust limits in March to bring it back within limits
  •  Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme records have been cross-checked against Queensland hospital admission data to identify any possible unreported cases of coal workers' pneumoconiosis, past or present. A respiratory physician found insufficient information to determine conclusively they had CWP or that they had been missed through the screening program.
  • Any coal mine worker who has any concerns that they may have this condition should contact their local doctor.
  • Any coal mine worker with a CWP diagnosis or a suspected CWP diagnosis should contact mines inspectors on 13QGOV (13 74 68).

Queensland has six confirmed cases of CWP.

Dr Lynham announced a five-point action plan in January to help identify and prevent coal workers' pneumoconiosis, a lung disease caused by long-term inhalation of coal dust in underground coal mining operations.