All-Australian chest X-ray screening means faster results for Qld coal miners

AUSTRALIAN radiologists are being sought to double-check the chest X-rays of Queensland coal miners in a bid to help tackle the re-emergence of black lung disease.

Twenty miners have been diagnosed with coal workers’ pneumoconiosis in Queensland since May 2015 – a disease caused by long-term exposure to respirable coal dust.

All Queensland coal miners have compulsory chest X-rays before, during, and when they leave the industry.


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These X-rays have, since July last year, been checked twice – once by an Australian radiologist and again by US-based National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health expert.

But Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham today announced a call for tenders from Australian-based radiology services to conduct the second check.

“The US-based reading has been an interim measure until Australian radiologists have gained the internationally-recognised B-reader qualification,” he said.

“An all-Australian service will now mean faster results, and certainty, for our coal miners.

”The tender closes on 19 May, and should be awarded by July, with a transition period until all x-rays being handled in Australia by the end of the year.”

Dual-reading of the X-rays is one element of the three-pronged approach announced in July by government, industry, medical and union representatives to protect coal workers from black lung.

Also as part of the black lung measures, from 1 January this year:

  • companies provide dust monitoring data to the Mines Inspectorate every three months for publishing online.
  • black lung is a notifiable disease, meaning mining companies must report known cases to the Queensland Mines Inspectorate.
  • coal mine workers permanently retiring from the industry can ask their employer for a retirement examination, including respiratory function and chest x-ray.
  • chest x-ray are done according to International Labour Organisation guidelines.

Dr Lynham said the tender would be supported by strict conditions on facilities taking the x-rays to ensure that staff taking x-rays were suitably trained and qualified.

“I encourage any mine worker – past or present – who has concerns about their respiratory health to see their doctor,” he said.

Jaydan is a Digital News Producer at myGC.com.au. He was appointed Managing Editor of the Junee Southern Cross newspaper at the age of 17 and has since held positions in a number of newsrooms in New South Wales and Queensland. Jaydan joined the Hot Tomato Broadcasting Company in 2013 and has been keeping the Gold Coast up to date with the latest local, national and international news online at myGC.com.au ever since. With almost ten years’ experience in both print and digital media Jaydan is committed to providing the best coverage during major news and weather events.

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