The government of Queensland in Australia has unveiled a new strategy to improve health of coal workers and prevent new cases of pneumoconiosis.
Queensland natural resources and mines minister Dr Anthony Lynham announced the three-pronged strategy in a bid to identify existing cases early.
Lynham said that tougher coal dust controls, better testing, and better trained staff are the backbone of a new regime to protect the health of 5,500 underground coal miners in the state.
Representatives of employers, unions and doctors joined the minister to explain coordinated action on the re-emergence of the disease.
A total of 11 miners in Queensland have been diagnosed with the disease, which is caused due to exposure to high concentrations of coal dust for a long time.
Lynham said: “The measures that employers, unions, government and doctors have now developed together, with Monash University and international expertise, will deliver the best-practice prevention, monitoring and screening system that our miners deserve.
“A miner with the first stages of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis may have no symptoms, but should not continue to work in a dusty environment, so the disease doesn’t progress.”
The three key action areas to be taken are prevention, early detection through better screening and safety net for miners with coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.
As part of the strategy, all underground coal mines are offering new checks on current or future X-rays to their workers.
Intensive training will also be developed for doctors who conduct the health assessments coal miners undergo regularly.
The key focus will be on the lung function tests that miners do as part of their health assessments.