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Queensland acts on Black Lung report findings

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World Coal,

Queensland is to develop a core group of doctors to help tackle the re-emergence of coal miners pneumoconiosis – also known as Black Lung – in the state. The measure was included in an interim report into recent occurrences of Black Lung in Queensland’s coal industry. The report is being prepared by Professory Malcolm Sim of Monash University.

“The re-emergence of coal miners pneumoconiosis is an issue I have taken very seriously and that’s why there’s an independent review into the state’s health screening system,” said Queensland Minister for State Development and Minister for Natrual Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham.

“One of the interim findings […] is a closer focus on development and maintaining a manageable core cohort of nominated medical examiners.”

Nominated medical examiners are doctors who undertake the regular official health assessments of miners. Under the current system, nominated medical examiners are selected by mining companies and generally include general practitioners and physicians.

Under the new plans, these doctors would be given standard introductory training and require minimum training and experience of Black Lung diagnosis.

“Effective health assessments are critical to screening system and early identification and prevention of coal miners’ pneumoconiosis,” continued Dr Lynham. “It’s critical that we have a core group of experienced nominated medical advisers who are skilled, experienced, can share information and be kept up-to-date on the specific occupational health requirements for Queensland’s coal mine workers.”

The government also said it would review the appointment procedures for nominated medical advisors.

In response to the interim report, Acting CEO of the Queensland Resources Council, Greg Lane, said the state’s coal industry was “keen to work with all stakeholders in progressing the interim findings.”

“The health and safety of workers is a top priority and the resources sector is committed to maintaining compliance with the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme,” Lane continued. “Industry remains committed to implementing the recommendations of Professor Sim and his team of experts, in a timely matter.”

Queensland currently has six confirmed cases of Black Lung.

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