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Coal industry response to CWP report

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Coal,

The Parliamentary Select Committee’s report into Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis released this week represents a substantial body of work and it is reassuring the report did not highlight any new issues with its findings in line with the two previous CWP reports already handed down, Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said today.

This is a positive sign of the ongoing co-operation and progress being made by the Queensland Government, Minister Lynham and his Department of Natural Resources and Mines and the Queensland coal industry. The industry had also fully cooperated with the Parliamentary Inquiry as the health and safety of its employees is its number one priority.

“The Minister, the Queensland Government and industry did respond to the earlier reports in advance of the parliamentary committee and together have already made changes and significant progress in the key areas,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“QRC has been working with industry, the government and unions to eradicate this disease since its re-emergence in the second half of 2015, and we commend Minister Lynham for his informed, active, and fact-based approach to address the re-emergence of CWP. He has also been well supported by the Department of Natural Resources and Mining.

“Industry is completely supportive of, and has fully cooperated with, Minister Lynham’s five-point plan to tackle CWP. Additionally, a series of recommendations delivered in the independent Monash Review (12 July 2016), are currently being implemented, or have already been.

“By the end of this year, Queensland coal mine workers will have access to world-class lung function tests, spirometry testing and new standards to set out clear requirements for medical practices conducting the tests, including training for medical staff members.

“Additionally, the QRC has recommended the review of the workers’ compensation scheme to improve the care of workers diagnosed with CWP,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The coal industry also recognises the need to address dust levels in mines and a review of the current occupational exposure limit. We are currently awaiting the outcome of the Safe Work Australia Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement and report due in October and will support recommendations to lower dust levels that are founded on a scientific basis.

Mr Macfarlane also said that coal companies now provided dust monitoring data to the Mines Inspectorate every three months, which was publicly available. However, the industry does not support the establishment of a new Mine Safety and Health Authority based in Mackay, nor the suggestion that the Authority not answer to the Queensland Government and its relevant minister.

 “Safety of any worker is crucial so the QRC believes there is a need to report to a minister rather than move health and safety away from the current reporting and regulatory process,” Mr Macfarlane said.

 “In addition, an industry as significant as the resources industry, in an economic and employment sense, has every right to expect that it is overseen by the elected Government of Queensland and its relevant Minister.

 “It’s extremely important the Government of the day has the authority over and responsibility for the operation of safety, environmental and economic areas of the Queensland resources industry.

“The establishment and transition to a new body to oversight health and safety in the Queensland resources industry will place in jeopardy, and inevitably cause delay to implementing the already identified changes currently being addressed under the existing structure. Therefore, industry is concerned that the significant progress both it and the government has made would be hampered by any move to a new body mid-process”

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