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BLACK LUNG: X-rays to be “double-checked”

The Queensland Government has launched a boosted x-ray screening system, which will see coal miners’ x-rays “double-checked” overseas.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the changes, aimed at protecting workers against black lung disease, would kick in this week.

The improved screening and quality assurance system is part of the three-pronged attack Dr Lynham announced earlier this month to tackle the re-emergence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.

“Government, employers, unions and the medical profession have acted quickly to implement plan to deal with this important health issue,” he said.

“Going forward, all coal miners requiring respiratory health assessments will have their chest x-rays checked, and then double-checked, by two medical experts.

“The new screening system will see an Australian radiologist read x-rays to the International Labor Organisation (ILO) standard first.

“In a key change, radiologists will report in the format recognised by the ILO, which provides a rigorous process for reporting on the presence of the disease, and if it is present, describing its stage.

“Initially, digital x-rays will be provided to the US to be checked a second time by an x-ray reader accredited by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“This second check will be established and available within Queensland, as soon as local radiologists are accredited in the ILO system.”

Dr Lynham said the new system would help restore coal miners’ confidence in the screening program, with results back to their doctors usually within a fortnight.

“I urge any coal mine worker who has concerns about their health to talk to their general practitioner,” he said.

The announcement comes on the same day 100 coal miners walked off-site at Glencore’s Oaky Creek coal mine to attend a meeting in Tieri regarding black lung.

Eleven Queensland miners have been diagnosed with coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, with another 18 suspected cases currently being reviewed.

One of the workers diagnosed with black lung was among those at the meeting.

Allan Thomson, 62, told ABC News he still works at Glencore’s Oaky Creek mine on a premanent day shift after being taken off underground duties.

“I think the company doesn’t know what to do with me, I think we’re just test cases and maybe something will come later on,” he told ABC News.

“But I think we’re just in the too hard basket at the moment, they probably don’t know what to do with us.”

Another 18 suspected cases of black lung are currently being reviewed by health experts in the USA.

 

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  • What does not seem to reported is that pneumoconiosis (workplace respiratory disease) is not just contained in the Coal Mining workplace but that exposure to “Airborne Particulate and Fibre” is far more reaching in many other industries,
    such as Metalliferous Mining, Drilling, Quarrying, Earthmoving, Ports (concrete / tyre rubber dust), Sandstone Cutting, Concrete / Cement and Brick Manufacturing, Construction, Agriculture and many others where “dust” ensues in the workplace
    environment.
    As reported in the Conversation April 21st 2016. there were 25,000 deaths from Black Lung (CWD- Coal Workers Disease) reported in the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 (GBD 2013). However, what was not mentioned in the news article was that the same study / report also stated the morbidity rates for other types of Particulate and Fibres in the Workplace:
    46,000 deaths of Silicosis (not related to Coal Mining).
    24,000 deaths from Asbestosis.
    164,000- other Pneumoconiosis (Worker Exposure to Particulate).
    How serious is the issue of pneumoconiosis- I am afraid- very! There is
    much litigation occurring in world dealing with the occupational respiratory disease in relation to Silicosis, DPM (Diesel Particulate Matter / Exhaust), Asbestosis and other chronic bronchial / tracheal / lung disease, as well as other health issues (eg
    workplace asthma, kidney disease, etc).
    For example, recently Metalliferous Miners in South Africa (as reported in Reuters May 2016), successfully lodged a class action suite against Mining Gold Companies for the contraction of Silicosis, which has wider ramifications
    across the word Also another aspect that does not seem to be considered in any of the recent news articles is exposure is not just from working in an open environment. But as any Operators have experienced, exposure has proven to more concentrated in Enclosed Cabins of Fixed and Mobile Plant due to inadequate Cabin Filtration and Pressuriser engineering controls. In addition, other OH&S issues are Co2, inadequate thermal comfort and resulting fatigue effects in Enclosed Cabins.

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