In Queensland: lung checks, reduced mine dust limits take effect

Monday, 07 September, 2020

In Queensland: lung checks, reduced mine dust limits take effect

The Queensland Government has introduced free, mandatory lung health checks and reduced mine dust limits to protect mine and quarry workers.

The mandatory health checks already in place for coal mine workers will also extend to Queensland’s 15,000 metalliferous mine and quarry workers. Coal and silica dust levels — responsible for black lung disease and silicosis — have also been reduced. The protections are the latest in a suite of reforms to protect the health and safety of Queensland’s resources workers.

“Every Queensland worker has the right to a healthy career and life free of occupational disease. Queensland now has the toughest mine safety and health laws in the world — including the offence of industrial manslaughter. And our resources workers make a massive contribution to Queensland’s economy, particularly through the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we recover,” said Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham.

The allowable limit for respirable coal dust has been cut to 1.5 mg/m3 from 2.5 and from 1 to 0.05 mg/m3 for silica dust. This follows a nationwide review by Safe Work Australia. Every metalliferous mine and quarry worker will also 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 workers start in the industry and at least once every five years during their career in the industry, with free respiratory health checks offered for life.

The measures provide mineral mine and quarry workers with the same health checks as their 37,000 coal mining counterparts, who receive free mandatory respiratory health screening. The Palaszczuk government has introduced a suite of mine safety and health reforms, including better detection and prevention of black lung and other mine dust lung diseases, and an improved safety net for affected workers. The Palaszczuk government also introduced the offence of industrial manslaughter and increased the maximum penalties for offences to $4 million, equipping the regulator to issue fines without going to court.

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