Black lung numbers sure to increase

Around 1000 coal miners in Queensland may have symptoms of miners’ pneumoconiosis, according to the CFMEU.

With the Senate Inquiry into the resurgence of black lung soon to start, CFMEU industry health and safety representative Jason Hill said the union is concerned there may be many miners, including those already retired and no longer receiving industry health checks, who have undiagnosed symptoms of the disease.

"We're projecting that we're going to have 16 per cent of current and retired coal mine workers with pneumoconiosis," Hill said.

The CFMEU’s submission to the Senate Select Committee on Health warns that dust sampling technology used in Queensland coal mines is no longer “best practice” and that health monitoring was let down by the lack of “B-reader” qualified radiographers.

However, the union also stated that the same problems with health monitoring were not present in the NSW coal mining industry under the watch of industry body Coal Services.

“We are seeing multiple systemic failures borne of complacency — as if coal workers’ pneumoconiosis once eliminated would never return, rather than requiring constant vigilance,” the submission said.

“Industry and government vigilance in Queensland has been so lacking it is arguable that we do not now possess the tools to address the multiple problems.”

 “The recurrence of the disease has exposed a litany of failings in mine site management practices, in regulatory compliance systems and in the health monitoring system in Queensland.”

The Committee will commence hearings to examine the re-emergence of black lung, starting in Brisbane and Mackay next week.

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