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Special standards set for coal miners’ doctors

Queensland’s coal mine workers will be assessed by specially registered medical professionals by the end of this year in the latest black lung disease reforms.

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham told Parliament today that medicos would meet special standards to be on a new register to conduct mine workers’ compulsory tests.

“Medical professionals will need the appropriate qualifications and meet best practice standards to register from next month,” Dr Lynham said.

“Coal mine workers will have their health assessed by medical professionals that meet world-class standards.

“An independent organisation will be appointed to audit medical practitioners and practices who are added to the register to ensure they continue to meet the required standards.”

The registration system is the latest black lung disease reform the Palaszczuk Government has put in place following an independent expert review last year.

Since July 2016, coal miners’ compulsory chest X-rays have been assessed at least twice; firstly by an Australian radiologist and then by US-based experts.

Tenders closed last Friday for a local provider to deliver this dual-reading reading service and by the end of this year, chest X-rays will be read by qualified B-reader Australian radiologists.

By the end of the year, coal mine workers will have world-class lung function tests, with new standards to  set out clear requirements for medical practices conducting the tests, including training for staff members, spirometry testing and interpretation, spirometry equipment, and quality control.

All registered medical providers will be independently audited.

Since 1 May, Queensland has a new recognised standard for underground respirable dust control, to help mines identify key areas of dust generation and assist with managing the risk of worker exposure.

In July, for the first time, the Department of Natural Resources and Mines will publish respirable dust monitoring results from Queensland’s coal mines. These will continue to be published quarterly on the department’s website.

Dr Lynham said any coal mine worker with health concerns should consult their GP.

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