Calls for coal dust monitoring group to battle black lung

A new senate report is calling for a national coal dust monitoring group to be created following the re-emergence of black lung.

The report, released by the senate select committee on health, seeks analysis of dust regulations and asks for workers to be withdrawn from high risk dust areas “without penalty”.

It blames poor regulation in the mining industry for the disease and questions its return, as black lung was believed to have been eradicated more than 30 years ago.

The report comes after the International Day of Mourning, remembering those who died due to workplace diseases and injuries.

Deborah O’Neill, labor senator and the committee’s chairwoman, laid blame on inadequate monitoring and dust controls, according to the ABC.

“You put all these things together and what we’ve seen is a disease, that Australian miners thought was gone 30 years ago, has quietly and insidiously re-emerged,” she said.

“We need to make sure that whatever’s been going on which has been inadequate clearly doesn’t continue into the future.”

The report, ‘Black Lung: It has buggered my life’, stated, “regulatory failure, industry indifference, incompetence, inconsistent risk mitigation and patchy health monitoring. The sum of all these failing parts has left Australian coal workers… vulnerable to early death”, according to the Courier Mail.

Michael Roche, Queensland Resources Council chief executive, said the report commended QLD Government’s review and suggests alterations to current regulations.

“So far six workers have been diagnosed with pneumoconiosis (black lung) – but that is six too many,” he said.

Other recommendations included removing workers from unsafe conditions until a national standard is implemented, and having a national fund to give a lifetime financial support for workers affected by the condition.

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