Black lung strikes 19th worker

Another Queensland coal miner has been diagnosed with black lung, the 19th person to be affected with the disease since its resurgence in Australia.

CFMEU mining and energy division Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said the worker wished to remain anonymous, but said they worked in an underground coal mine in central Queensland, AAP reports.

Smyth said the mining industry had to take financial responsibility for those who have been affected with the disease – calling for a 10c per tonne of coal produced in Queensland levy to create a support fund.

“The system of identifying and remedying the causes of the disease have clearly failed, and it is workers and their families who are paying the price,” he said.

“The mining industry sits at the centre of the problem and it is the mining industry that needs to play a key role in supporting victims and their families.”

Eighteen of the diagnosed workers are from Queensland, with New South Wales receiving its first case last month.

It was the first time a case had been confirmed in NSW since the 1970s.

The Queensland Government has been taking a tougher stance against black lung since its re-emergence.

On January 1 this year, current measures to protect coal mine workers from black lung became regulations required by law.

These included regularly reporting dust monitoring results to the Mines Inspectorate; conducting chest x-ray exams at least once every five years on current employees who have worked in an underground coal mine; and giving respiratory function and chest x-rays for retiring coal mine workers at their request.

Queensland has held a number of hearings throughout the state for the Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis select committee’s inquiry into the resurgence of black lung.

The committee will bring the final report to the Legislative Assembly by April 12.