The Queensland commissioner for mine health and safety has identified Australia’s need to maintain high quality air standards in coal mines.
The commissioner, Stewart Bell, has warned of the potential for the re-emergence of coal worker’s pneumoconiosis which is also known as black lung, amongst miners.
It is caused by the inhalation and build up of coal dust in the lungs.
Saying that thousands of American miners have died from the disease, Bell said Australia needs to ensure our safety levels do not slide.
“We don’t want people to take their eye off the ball here and we end up in five years time in a US situation, where we could have problems," he said.
"The Americans have had thousands of cases of black lung in the last few years.”
Between 2005 and 2006, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), reported that almost 9% of miners with 25 or more years of working in coal mines tested positive for black lung, more than doubling since the late 1990s.
This follows on the rise of silicosis, which is caused by silicia as opposed to coal dust, within the Australian mining industry.
The Australian Workers Union recently held a forum to educate miners on the causes, outcomes and legal recourses arising from silicosis.
The World Health Organisation is aiming to eradicate silicosis and pneumoconiosis by 2030.