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Eighth case of Black Lung confirmed

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World Coal,

An eighth case of coal workers' pneumoconiosis – or Black Lung – has been confirmed in Queensland, according to the trade union that represents coal workers in the state. The worker is in his early 40s and is the youngest coal miner to be diagnosed in the current outbreak. He had worked as a contractor at a number of mines throughout Queensland and New South Wales.

“My thoughts go out to the family of the latest coal mine worker to be diagnosed with Black Lung disease,” said Steve Smyth, District President of the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Queensland. Smyth also said that the union was aware of at least 12 other cases of the disease.

“Diagnoses are coming in more frequently and more cases are becoming public as medical assessments are coming back from specialists in the United States,” continued Smyth. “Each diagnosis sends shockwaves through the workers and the community and we expect more to come. What we are seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg.”

According to Smyth, the diagnoses are now being made due to the application of stricter standards to x-ray reading and the use of the B-Reader process whereby x-rays are checked by experienced, trained and competent radiologists.

“Miners are still going to work every day not knowing if they have Black Lung disease and it will only be after these records are checked properly by radiologists qualified to the B-Reader level that they will have any certainty,” Smyth added.

The union leader also called on the Queensland government to do more to tackle the problem. “The time for talk is over,” concluded Smyth. “Both the National Senate Inquiry and the Sims Review have provided dozens of recommendations to government, a number of which can be acted on right now.”

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