A RAFT of proposed reforms will target stronger workers’ compensation protections for workers with black lung and associated dust diseases.

The recommended changes are part of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation (Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, introduced into Queensland Parliament by Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Grace Grace on 14 June, 2017.

The proposed changes would modify workers’ compensation arrangements for former coal miners who believe they may have Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis.

Among the changes, former coal workers would have access to interim medical examination through the workers’ compensation scheme.

Formerly settled claims would also be allowed to be re-opened for those experiencing changing symptoms, and workers diagnosed with pneumoconiosis (including from coal mining), silicoisis or asbestosis from working in a dust environment, would be eligible for an additional lump sum compensation if their condition deteriorates. This would seem to extend beyond coal workers and expand into areas other than coal mines.

Of immediate impact would be the ability for WorkCover to charge an additional premium where an employer had, prior to 1 January 2017 engaged a former coal worker in an industry that involved dealing with coal. This would be an amount WorkCover considers necessary towards covering the costs of administering chapter 6A (interim medical exams).

The Bill would also remove the ability of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to grant a stay of decision that is subject to appeal under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 would also be amended to establish an ‘affected persons committee’ involving injured workers and families of persons who have died as a result of work incidents, and to provide advice to the Minister.

Changes to the electrical licencing framework would be amended through the Electrical Safety Act 2002, allowing the electrical safety regulator to obtain information about the competency of applicants for an electrical work licence.

An existing electrical work licence holder would be directed by the Electrical Licensing Committee to undertake a competency reassessment where there are reasonable grounds to believe the licensee may not be competent.

The Electrical Safety Regulator would also have the capacity to immediately suspend an electrical worker’s licence in specific and extremely serious circumstances in the interests of protecting the safety of others.

The Bill was referred to the Finance and Administration Committee with a report due on by 11 August, 2017.The Committee invites submissions addressing any aspect of the Bill.

The closing date for written submissions is 14 July, 2017 at 4pm.

The Committee page provides further information and details on how to make a submission.