Senate to investigate black lung resurgence


The re-emergence of black lung amongst Queensland coal miners has launched a Senate investigation into the issue.

Over the last six months five cases of black lung have been reported amongst Queensland miners, with the CMFEU unveiling a list of another 40 people who either could have Black Lung or had already died of it.

CFMEU industry health and safety representative Jason Hill said he believed coal mines had been exceeding the mandated dust levels for a long time, and that the “system” had let miners down.

Each of the five miners diagnosed to date had worked at least one mine out of the Oaky Creek, Grasstree or Carborough coal mines.

The most recent case was an unnamed Middlemount man who had been working underground since the 1970s, who was diagnosed with the symptoms of black lung by Dr Robert Cohen, an expert in the field of coal worker’s lung diseases.

Now a Senate committee will be launched into the re-emergence of this disease.

Head of the Senate committee on health, Deborah O’Neill, announced two hearings to take place in May looking into the detection and treatment of the affliction.

“The committee will examine issues around the detection of the illness and treatment for sufferers (and) whether reduced federal government hospital and health funding has affected the ability for the public health system to respond­ to the re-emergence of this disease,” O’Neill told The Australian.

“There are a number of worrying factors to this outbreak, with reports of one case in NSW, and rising concern among mining communities and health professionals in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.”