More protection provided for black lung sufferers

Black lung sufferers will have better access to workers compensation after a new bill passed by the Queensland Government.

The bill streamlines the process for mine workers who have any concerns about having the disease, granting them access to medical examinations through the workers’ compensation scheme.

It allows current and former mine workers affected by black lung and other dust related diseases to gain full and proper entitlements.

No fault statutory compensation through WorkCover will be available, along with common law damages.

State industrial relations minister Grace Grace called the protections under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation (Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis) and other legislation bill 2017 “a huge step forward” for those suffering with the disease.

“Pneumoconiosis is a horrible disease and sufferers can now count on appropriate support to monitor, manage and treat their illness,” she said.

Under the new laws, workers with the disease will also be able to reopen their statutory claim to receive further lump sum compensation if their condition worsens.

The Queensland Government has been rolling out a number of protection measures against the disease since it resurfaced in Australia.

These were followed by a report from the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry into the disease, which highlighted a ‘catastrophic failure’ in the regulatory system designed to protect workers against the disease.

As of May this year, there have been 21 current and former coal mine workers diagnosed with the coal workers pneumoconiosis.