15th case of black lung confirmed

A 54-year-old man has been confirmed as the 15th worker in Queensland to be diagnosed with black lung since its resurgence in May last year.

The man had worked at the Carborough Downs mine in the Bowen Basin for 36 years.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMEU) said the worker had been cleared twice by selected Australian medical assessors and radiologists, however the disease had been confirmed after examination from a US expert, the ABC reports.

Steve Smyth, CFMEU mining and energy division district president, called the case “unacceptable”.

“It is unbelievable that this disease was missed twice by Australian health professionals in less than a year,” he said.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that this worker was exposed to dust for 16 months extra because people here in Australia, in the medical profession, couldn’t pick up the fact he had simple pneumoconiosis.”

Smyth went on to say the failure highlights the lack of confidence coal mine workers have in the current regulatory systems designed to protect them from health risks.

He also called on the government to appoint independent doctors and radiologists, separate from mining companies, to assess the workers.

Last month, the CFMEU claimed a former miner died from complications after developing black lung.

The QLD government recently announced the launch of a parliamentary review into the re-emergence of black lung in the state. They will create a parliamentary select committee that will have the powers to call witnesses, hear evidence, and gain access to relevant documents related to the disease.

To date, the youngest miner to have been diagnosed with the disease in QLD is 39.

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