Queensland’s 15,000 mineral mining and quarry workers will soon be given free lung health checks for life to protect them from mine dust lung diseases like silicosis.
Under the Mining Safety and Health Legislation (Health Surveillance) Amendment Regulation 2020, from 1 September 2020, screening for the early detection and prevention of mine dust lung diseases including silicosis will be mandatory.
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, the Hon. Dr Anthony Lynham, said every Queensland worker has the right to safe working conditions and peace of mind.
“As a doctor I know that hand-in-hand with disease prevention goes early detection, because it helps stop disease progressing. And mandatory screening is critical for early detection.”
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said many miners and families in North Queensland would benefit from the new health checks.
“I know workers, and their families, will welcome these extra measures to protect their health.”
The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy has been notified of 43 cases of confirmed mine dust lung disease among current and former Queensland mineral mine and quarry workers.
Mr Stewart urged mine workers to alert friends and colleagues who may have left the industry to contact the mine dust health support service on 1300 445 715 to also access their free health checks.
Under the changes that take effect from 1 September, every worker will have a chest X-ray that is read by at least two qualified radiologists as well as a lung function test.
This will happen when they start in the industry, and at least once every five years during their career in the industry.
And, after they leave the industry, former mineral mine and quarry workers can continue to have respiratory health checks for life – if they desire it – at no cost to them.
The measures provide mineral mine and quarry workers with the same health checks as their 37,000 coal mining counterparts who already have free mandatory respiratory health screening.
The free health checks form a part of the expanding suite of reforms under the State Government to protect the health and safety of all mine and quarry workers.
Those reforms include:
- a mobile health service, scheduled to start by the end of 2020, that will provide lung health checks to past and present regional mine and quarry workers across the state.
- a confidential mine dust health support service (1300 445 715) that helps current and former mineworkers access the information and services they need.
- voluntary access to the health checks for retired or former coal, mineral mine and quarry workers.
- creating industrial manslaughter as an offence, with executives facing up to 20 years’ jail if Queensland mine and quarry workers die because of their criminal negligence.
- $35 million to deliver reforms to improve the safety and health of mineworkers.
- increased maximum penalties for offences to $4 million and powers for the regulator to issue fines without going to court.
- establishing an independent resources safety and health authority.