A QUEENSLAND Parliamentary committee has been established to inquire into the re-emergence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and how to prevent it.
Known as ‘black lung’, the disease is caused by prolonged exposure to high coal dust levels. Up to 15 cases are understood to have been identified in the recent re-emergence of the disease.
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham, says a focused parliamentary select committee inquiry would build on what had already been learned from an independent review and a federal senate inquiry.
“We’re now tackling this disease on three fronts – prevention, early detection and a safety net for workers with this disease,” he says.
“A lot more remains to be done, but with coordinated action, combined purpose and a sound scientific basis, we have already made significant progress.
“An inquiry will add to what we already know from the independent Monash University review and the senate inquiry.”
In undertaking the inquiry, the committee will consider:
- the legislative and other regulatory arrangements of government and industry which have existed in Queensland to eliminate and prevent CWP;
- whether these arrangements were adequate, and have been adequately and effectively maintained over time;
- the roles of government departments and agencies, mine operators, nominated medical advisers , radiologists, industry safety and health representatives and unions representing coal mine workers in these arrangements;
- the study into CWP undertaken by Monash University and the findings of the Senate Select Committee on Health (Fifth Interim Report) and other relevant reports and studies;
- the efficacy and efficiency of adopting methodologies and processes for coal mine dust measurement and mitigation, including monitoring regimes, engineering measures, personal protective equipment, statutory requirements, and mine policies and practices, including practices in jurisdictions with similar coal mining industries; and
- other matters the committee determines are relevant, including other respiratory diseases associated with underground mining.
Consisting of six members, the committee will be chaired by Labor MP Jo-Anne Miller, who in a parliamentary speech in August revealed her grandfather had died of black lung.
The committee is expected to report to the legislative assembly by 12 April 2017.