The committee was pleased to receive many submissions with considered
recommendations aimed at providing a comprehensive response to the re-emergence
of CWP. The committee supports many of these recommendations, and in a number of
cases, the committee has adopted the recommendations. This chapter provides a discussion
of the committee's final recommendations, in light of the findings detailed in
The committee's recommendations are grouped according to the importance
and immediacy of the required actions:
reduction in coal dust exposure and improved coal dust
more rigorous and regular medical screening for CWP; and
more rigorous coal dust regulation.
The recommendations are grouped into immediate and medium-term actions.
This reflects the committee's concern that immediate action can and must be
taken to protect the health of coal mine workers in order halt the incidence of
Reduced coal dust exposure and improved coal dust monitoring
CWP is a preventable disease. It is caused by exposure to hazardous
levels of coal dust. For 30 years it has been thought that CWP was eradicated
in Australia, but the eight cases diagnosed since mid-2015 have demonstrated
that coal mine safety standards in Queensland, and possibly throughout
Australia, are currently inadequate.
The committee believes that the health and safety of coal mine workers
must be given the highest priority in any response to the re-emergence of CWP.
The committee stresses the need for measures that immediately eliminate
workers' exposure to harmful levels of coal dust.
The committee is concerned by evidence which demonstrates that coal
miners' exposure to damaging levels of dust continues unabated, particularly
where mining companies undertake longwall mining in order to increase
productivity. The committee is also concerned that data on the incidence of
mine workers' exposure to damaging levels of coal dust is unavailable because
mines have failed to sufficiently monitor and report dust levels. The committee
is equally concerned by mining companies’ ineffective dust control measures,
and is greatly concerned by the ineffective regulation which has allowed these
problems to continue without impediment.
As noted in Chapter 3, there is no nationally agreed or statutory coal
dust exposure limit for coal mines. Without an upper national exposure limit
for coal dust levels, any efforts to reduce coal dust or workers' exposure will
be futile. Likewise without an acceptable industry standard for safe coal dust levels,
any attempt to mitigate the production of, and exposure to, coal dust will lack
rigour, and will not afford adequate protection to coal workers across
Australia. While there is no national body responsible for monitoring mine
safety, Safe Work Australia has the capacity to develop an interim national
standard. Such a national standard should then be incorporated into all mine
Until a national dust exposure standard has been agreed upon and
implemented nationally, the currently harmful coal dust levels will continue to
threaten the health of Australian coal miners. So, as the current Queensland Acting
Chief Inspector of Mines, Mr Russell Albury, advised in his evidence to the
committee, ‘if a person is in an unsafe position then they have the right to
and should withdraw from that position’.
The committee understands this to mean that if a Queensland coal worker becomes
aware that the level of coal dust has reached or exceeded the Queensland
regulated standard, they have the right to leave that area for a safe area,
without any detriment to their pay or conditions.
Lack of a national dust exposure level is indicative of the wider
problem highlighted by the re-emergence of CWP; that is the lack of
Commonwealth-led response to this issue. The committee believes that leadership
by the Commonwealth Government is essential if Australia is to respond
effectively to the re-emergence of CWP.
As discussed in Chapter 3, up until quite recently, the Commonwealth
Government had actively participated in the development of health and safety
standards for the mining sector through the NMSF. Implementation of the NMSF
has been protracted and the Commonwealth Government’s engagement with the
states on implementing nationally consistent mine safety legislation eventually
devolved from the COAG Ministerial level to departmental officials in 2013.
The committee considers that the re-emergence of CWP demands a strong
response, and therefore recommends that the Commonwealth Government take the
lead by establishing a National Coal Dust Monitoring Group.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government
establish a National Coal Dust Monitoring Group comprised of representatives from
mining companies, state governments, technical experts and industry
stakeholders such as mining unions, and that it urgently undertake an analysis
as to the cause of the serious and widespread breaches of dust mitigation
measures in the industry. Following the analysis, the National Coal Dust
Monitoring Group should develop and implement a work program for effective coal
dust mitigation measures aimed at the immediate reduction of coal mine workers'
exposure to harmful levels of coal dust.
The committee recommends that Safe Work Australia reviews current
coal dust exposure levels and the current Australian and international academic
and industry literature on the safest possible workable threshold for exposure
to coal dust, with a view to developing a best practice national maximum
exposure level. Safe Work Australia should report its findings to the National
Coal Dust Monitoring Group, including whether the exposure level should be
measured as a dust load of milligrams per tonne of coal cut, as distinct from
time weighted averages for exposure.
The committee recommends that all Australian States and
Territories adopt the national standard for coal dust exposure. The standard
would then be subject to regular review by the National Coal Dust Monitoring
Group, with the review being based on dust reading and disease data provided by
the mine regulators in Australian jurisdictions.
The committee also recommends that in the short-term, coal mining
companies adopt the lowest Australian level (2.5 mg/m3) for coal
dust exposure until a national standard has been agreed upon and implemented
with a more rigorous, independent testing regime instigated as soon as
practical in Queensland.
The committee recommends that until the national standard has
been developed and adopted, state governments advise mining companies that coal
workers should be withdrawn from areas subject to unsafe dust levels without
penalty. In addition, the Queensland government and the Department of Natural
Resources and Mines should instigate a process of formal warnings followed by
naming in a public register for non-compliant companies, along with additional
sanctions for non-compliance.
The committee recommends that mining companies operating in
Queensland, in consultation with the Queensland Government, technical experts
and industry stakeholders, urgently employ more effective coal dust mitigation
measures to immediately reduce coal mine workers' current exposure to coal
Evidence before the Committee makes clear that there is inconsistent and
sometimes non-existent dust monitoring in Queensland coal mines. Without
adequate coal dust monitoring systems, it is impossible to guarantee that
workers are currently protected from exposure to hazardous levels of coal dust.
Evidence before the committee also indicates that the current Queensland
regulatory system is ineffective in setting proper controls for dust monitoring
because the mines operate in a largely self-regulated landscape as a result of
previous government legislation. While the committee notes that changes to
previous legislation can take time, immediate action must be taken by the
Queensland Government to protect Queensland coal mine workers, and to require
more thorough dust monitoring and control measures.
One of the issues highlighted by the CFMEU regarding dust monitoring was
that the compliance and enforcement regime in Queensland is opaque. The CFMEU
advocated for improved transparency about mine safety including the identity of
the mines inspected, dust testing results, and any compliance directions issued
by the Chief Inspector of Coal Mines. This argument is supported by the
committee's findings in Chapter 3 regarding the mine Directives issued by the
Mines Inspectorate as part of its compliance regime.
University of Wollongong researchers Drs Plush, Aziz, and Ren argued in
their 2011 research paper that the mining industry in Australia should have a
database of best practice dust suppression techniques and management of dust
The committee supports this suggestion, given that such a database would
contribute towards ensuring the use of best practice techniques in coal mines
NSW Coal Services explained that under the NSW model, dust control is
seen as 'the true prevention focus’ for NSW Coal Services and their
Ms Lucy Flemming, CEO of NSW Coal Services told the committee that:
The dust requirements in New South Wales are pursuant to the
regulation which prescribes monitoring requirements for respirable dust,
including specific locations and frequencies of that dust monitoring. It is
actually very highly regulated. That regulation also directs us to be
independent of the mine and we must be licensed by the New South Wales
Department of Industry, Division of Resources and Energy. If we do measure any
dust exceedances, there must be resampling and corrective action taken.
Ms Flemming explained that when conducting dust monitoring, NSW Coal
Services is empowered to travel into the mines to the coalface and provide
immediate advice and corrective action on dust control:
Getting down to their expertise, the occupational hygiene
team have a very broad level of skills, incorporating actual hygienists,
specialist laboratory technicians and coal industry experienced inspectors. We
actually have ex‑coalminers on staff being able to monitor dust and also
provide educational assistance as they go. Being an effective licensed provider
in doing dust monitoring is more than just being able to apply a personal dust
monitor to a worker and being a NATA [National Association of Testing
Authorities] accredited laboratory. Our inspectors actually go underground with
the miners. They travel underground with the mining crew to conduct the actual
dust monitoring and are able to observe any operational practices. They are
able to audit control measures and provide on the spot guidance and education
to the coalminers underground. If we see something that is not quite right, we
can give on-the-spot advice and assistance to make that worker safer and stand
out of the dust. We work collaboratively with the mine management to help
monitor the effectiveness of improvement opportunities or any corrective
actions that have been implemented to rectify any exceedances detected. 
Graph 1 provided to the committee in NSW Coal Services's submission is
proof that NSW's regulatory scheme works.
By comparison, Graph 2, which is reported in the Queensland Commissioner
for Mines Safety and Health, Queensland Mines Inspectorate Annual Performance
Report 2014‑15, is proof that the Queensland system has resulted in
workers being exposed to hazardous levels of dust.
The committee considers that there cannot be effective monitoring and
mitigation of coal dust without a focus on prevention of dust diseases such as
CWP embedded in legislation. In NSW, the focus on prevention and mitigating of dust
levels is a core part of the work of NSW Coal Services. The opposite is true of
the Queensland regime, where, as noted in Chapter 2, monitoring arrangements
are result of previous governments legislation, is the responsibility of the
mining companies. The DNRM only provides light-touch oversight and reporting on
Given their role in providing a safe system of work for coal miners, the
committee was disappointed that witnesses from the Queensland Resources
Council, Vale Australia, Anglo American Coal, and the DNRM were unfamiliar with
the conclusions of Drs Plush, Ren, and Aziz's 2011 research paper, chiefly,
that dust controls in longwall mining could be greatly improved.
The committee also notes that Professor Sim's interim report, part of
his review of the CWHS, emphasises the need for the prevention of coal dust
The review team would like to emphasise medical surveillance
of CMDLD [coal mine dust lung disease] is only useful for secondary prevention
and identifying where there may have been excessive coal mine dust exposure.
However, because of the long latency in the development of CMDLD, it is not a
substitute for primary prevention, which should be in the form of coal mine
dust monitoring and control.
The committee urges the Queensland Government to review the NSW Coal
Services model with a view to strengthening the protection for mine workers in
the Queensland mining legislation.
Graph 1—Coal dust concentration in NSW mines, 2012-15
Graph 2—Coal dust concentration levels in Queensland mines,
In light of emerging problems identified in the mining industry the committee
is concerned that safety standards in all jurisdictions may not be providing a
safe working environment for mine workers. The committee therefore recommends
that the state governments identify best practice dust monitoring devices or
similar best practice technology to be used in all Australian coal mines. The
Queensland government should review the protections provided under the Coal
Services New South Wales model and identify which aspects should be applied to
any new legislative regime in Queensland.
The committee also recommends that the state governments require that
dust monitoring be undertaken in a consistent and methodical way, which
monitors dust levels in all relevant parts of the mine during both maintenance
and production times.
The committee also recommends that state governments increase public
transparency and accountability around dust monitoring. Dust monitoring data
should be made publically available as a means of increasing accountability and
restoring coal mine workers' confidence in the regulatory system.
The committee recommends that the proposed National Coal Dust Monitoring
Group in consultation with mining companies, state governments, technical
experts and industry stakeholders, and with the support of Safe Work Australia,
create and manage a database of best practice dust suppression techniques and
management of dust sampling data. This would enable coal mining companies to
continuously improve their safe work practices and provide increased protection
for coal miners.
The committee recommends that the establishment of the database, and its
day to day running costs, be funded by the state government and the coal mining
The committee recommends legislation requiring mining companies' input
on, and compliance with the database must be instigated at both federal and
state government levels.
The committee recommends that the National Coal Dust Monitoring Group,
and state based bodies, also facilitate cross-jurisdiction information sharing
about coal dust mitigation measures.
Evidence received by the committee points to the superiority of the NSW
regulatory system, which includes a Standing Dust Committee which is a forum
for participation of all concerned parties in dust mitigation: industry
stakeholders, unions, and government.
A standing dust committee, or a similar independent body, would allow
Queensland stakeholders to work together to implement best practice dust
The committee recommends that, in addition to the National Coal Dust
Monitoring Group, the Queensland Government, in consultation with mining
companies, technical experts, unions, and industry stakeholders, form a
standing dust committee or similar forum, in the near to medium term, to
achieve best practice dust control in Queensland coal mines and to address the
concerns raised about the current mitigation and monitoring issues.
More thorough medical screening for CWP
Evidence from Mr Keith Stoddart, who has been diagnosed with CWP was a
damning indictment on the inability of the Queensland CWHS to provide adequate
screening, and to be a means of support for miners diagnosed with CWP:
I have paid for all of this myself. All of my travelling, all
of my CAT scans, PET scans, the specialists; it has all come out of my pocket.
The committee believes action should be taken immediately to provide
support for former coal mine workers like Mr Stoddart, who have been diagnosed
with CWP, and to arrange for medical screening for current coal mine workers.
The committee is also concerned by evidence from miners that they have
lost confidence in the CWHS, and that they believed that their x-rays were not
being assessed under the CWHS.
While the focus of these recommendations at present time is confined to
Queensland, CWP may yet reveal itself to be a national problem. Disappointingly,
it appears there is no assistance currently available for former coal miners
who wish to be tested for CWP. The committee heard that many former miners do
not even realise that they should be tested.
In undertaking this inquiry, the committee has taken a federal
perspective on the issue of the re-emergence of CWP. The committee believes
that this issue is not limited to Queensland alone, and that without national
best practice standards of dust control and monitoring, and without a national
emphasis on prevention as noted above, there will be more reported cases of CWP
The committee is of the view that a national focus is needed to
establish a mechanism by which former workers seeking medical advice, and those
workers diagnosed with CWP, can receive assistance.
CWP is a disease with no cure. Its effects on the human respiratory
system are debilitating. Mrs Danielle Stoddart told the committee that she had
seen her husband, Mr Keith Stoddart, become a shadow of his former self as CWP
took hold of his lungs:
I have seen Keith go, every day actually, as soon as he
exerts himself—he cannot even manage mowing a lawn. He does not have the energy
or the strength to do things that he used to be able to do. Once, he used to
wake up in the morning and his breathing would be fine for a couple of hours.
Now it is starting to get that way that as soon as he gets up he is exhausted.
He is starting to wake up through the night with pains in his chest. He is very
angry because of what is happening to him, and I find it hard to understand.
So, therefore, we have had a few words trying to come to grips with what is
happening to him and what kind of a life he is going to have. He needs quality
of life. This is what I want for him. You will just to excuse me for a minute.
I just cannot—
Mr Percy Verrall described a similar situation:
It has buggered my life. I can walk for only about three
houses and I am buggered and have to go back. My lounge chair lies down like a
bed and I go back and lie down on that. It takes me over an hour to start
feeling good again. That is how bad I get. Like right now, even when I am
talking too long I lose my breath.
Establishing a nationally consistent scheme to help former coal mine
workers will require the cooperation of government, industry, unions, and the
health system. Ultimately however, the committee is persuaded by the
description of the US model provided by Professor Robert Cohen and discussed in
Chapter 3 as the best compensation model. Under this scheme, compensation for
workers who contract CWP is the responsibility of the insurer of the mining
As noted in Chapter 3, the question of funding any form of support or
on-going screening scheme for former mine workers was discussed at the
committee's public hearings. The committee agrees with the comments made by
Mr Andrew Vella, General Manager at the Vale Australia Carborough Downs
Mine, when he described the need for an industry-wide compensation fund.
Such a fund would need to be free from the current problems associated
with workers' access to compensation, including time limitations. A number of
witnesses agreed that the period over which CWP develops means that time-limits
on access to compensation deny sufferers a fair outcome. Dr Richard Slaughter,
from the College of Radiologists, told the committee that 'most patients who
have pneumoconiosis had at least 10 years of [dust] exposure.'
Dr Slaughter could see no reason why a limitation should be imposed on workers
who develop CWP and seek compensation:
We recognise that this disease is caused by dust exposure, and
that is an ongoing process that can worsen after the exposure.
Dr Rob McCartney, Chief Medical Officer, Anglo American Coal, agreed:
Senator CAMERON: Okay. Finally, does anyone disagree with
the need for ongoing monitoring? There is also the latency period—the period
that people can make a workers compensation claim. Do you both agree that that
should be extended?
Dr McCartney: I think that is the main issue. People leave
employment, and they have been exposed to hazards that can cause chronic disease
or to carcinogenic hazards. To cease health surveillance at the point of
ceasing employment does not make sense, and they definitely should be a
Senator CAMERON: Surely the main issue is that people are
Dr McCartney: Correct. Also, in relation to the issue of
compensation: just because one has stopped working, one is not excluded from
compensation. You can still make compensation claims well after you have ceased
employment, and should be allowed to. That does happen in this sector as well,
Ms Flemming, CEO of NSW Coal Services told the committee that:
The most important thing for an injured worker is their
health—to make sure that they are able to get the necessary treatment required
to, in the best case scenario, return to work and return to a relatively normal
way of life. This is a very serious disease. Some of those things might not be
possible. So it is assisting the worker as much as possible more from a medical
perspective, but also, obviously, a financial perspective. If things have been
incurred that should have been covered from a workers compensation system, then
they would be paid for.
The committee recommends that the mining industry, through its representative
bodies, must create an industry-wide fund to provide compensation for coal mine
workers who contract CWP. The fund's aims should include identification of, and
communications with former mine workers who may require CWP screening and
compensation for travel, medical, and other costs associated with undergoing
CWP screening and diagnosis. Workers' access to compensation from this fund
should not be time-limited in any way.
The committee also recommends that state governments provide a means for
former and current miners to seek assistance which is independent of their
employers and Nominated Medical Advisors such as a hotline or helpdesk, to be
funded by the industry and independently administered by an organisation such
as the Lung Foundation Australia.
Medium term actions
From the evidence received, it is clear that the CWHS is urgently in
need of improvement. In the medium-term, an overhaul of the CWHS will be the
only way that Queensland miners' confidence in the screening process can be restored.
The committee understands that the Queensland Government will examine
changes to the CWHS once the Sim review is complete. Professor Sim provided his
report to the Queensland Government on 31 March 2016 and the report was
released publicly on 8 April 2016.
The Thoracic Society made a number of recommendations in relation to CWP
screening practices, and the committee endorses these recommendations and
strongly encourages the Queensland Government to have regard to these
The committee believes that the National Coal Dust Monitoring Group
would be best placed to set standards for screening.
Better coal dust regulation
As noted above, the committee believes that strong regulation, with a
focus on independent checks and balances, is vital to creating a healthier and
safer work environment for coal miners. Evidence the committee received about
the NSW Coal Services system supported this conclusion.
Under the NSW system, the independent organisation NSW Coal Services is
jointly owned by the mining industry and the CFMEU. It has carriage of dust
monitoring, compliance, and enforcement, and provides medical screening
In comparison, the Queensland system puts the onus on mining companies
to properly conduct dust monitoring. The Mines Inspectorate monitors companies'
compliance with dust levels and issues directives for non-compliance. The CWHS
hinges upon the Nominated Medical Advisors, who are both chosen and renumerated
by the mining companies.
The committee fears that without action now, the high levels of
hazardous dust in Queensland mines is potentially setting up current and future
coal mine workers to develop CWP in the future.
The committee believes that the stark difference between the Queensland
and NSW coal dust levels indicates that properly regulated dust mitigation and
dust monitoring have a huge impact on the dust levels to which coal mine
workers are exposed.
Evidence before the committee clearly indicates that without
independent, high quality dust monitoring and effective dust controls, dust
exposure can spike to dangerous levels. Higher levels of hazardous dust are
clearly linked to the development of CWP; a point on which all witnesses and
submitters were in agreement.
However, the committee considers that there cannot be effective
monitoring and mitigation without a focus on prevention of dust diseases
embedded in legislation. In NSW, this focus on prevention and mitigating dust
levels is a core part of the work of NSW Coal Services. The opposite is true in
Queensland, where, as noted in Chapter 2, monitoring is the
responsibility of the mining companies and the DNRM reports on compliance.
While the committee supports the Queensland Government's response to the
re‑emergence of CWP, and its five point action plan, the committee urges
the Queensland Government to look to the NSW Coal Services model for ways in
which the Queensland regulations can be improved.
The committee recommends that the Queensland Government gives the
highest priority to its review of coal dust regulations as part of its five
point action plan. To achieve this the committee recommends that the Queensland
Government take note of the concerns expressed by the committee in relation to
the mine Directives, particularly the enforcement of these Directives and the
need for the information contained within the Directives and rates of
compliance to be able to be audited and reported on. Directives issued by
government departments should use standardised language and have a rigorous
process for auditing, compliance, and data collection.
The committee is of the view that the Queensland coal mine regulatory
system is at a high risk of regulatory capture. This conclusion was borne out
when it became clear on repeated questioning that Queensland Government
officials could not provide evidence of what measures were in place to limit
the possibility of regulatory capture.
The committee urges the Queensland Government to note, as part of its
review, the evidence provided by the Acting Chief Inspector of Mines and the
Deputy Director-General, Minerals and Energy Resources, which demonstrated that
the relationship between the regulator and the regulated is very close, and
subject to a perceived, if not real, conflict of interest.
An important part of the response to the re-emergence of CWP will be
restoring confidence in the regulatory protections for coal mine workers. The
committee therefore urges the Queensland Government to do all it can to ensure
the independence of its regulatory regime and officials.
The committee recommends that the Queensland Government direct relevant
officials to undertake independent, high level, training on avoiding regulatory
The committee recommends that in developing this training the Queensland
Government have regard to the Better Practice Guides developed by the
Australian National Audit Office in relation to regulatory capture.
As outlined in Chapter 3, the committee believes that the NMAs are
particularly vulnerable to regulatory capture. Further, the committee agrees
with the points made by Professor Sim at the committee's public hearing on 7
March 2016, that the NMAs should have special training for their role, and be
geographically proximate to the mine they serve.
Professor Sim's interim report was publicly released on 8 April 2016.
The report's findings were the same as the evidence Professor Sim had provided
to the committee at its hearing, and the report made the following
recommendations in relation to NMAs:
Appointment of NMAs to assess the respiratory health of those
miners at risk of dust exposure should become a QDNRM function, but
consideration will need to be given to the minimum numbers and geographical
spread to ensure that miners, including those who are fly-in-fly-out, have easy
access to an NMA.
Minimum requirements to be met by NMAs in terms of medical
training and experience to undertake the respiratory component of the coal mine
health assessment should be established.
A formal induction training and ongoing audit program for these
NMAs should be developed. The training should be completed by NMAs prior to
undertaking respiratory assessments in the coal mine workers’ health assessment
This training program should include:
- Information about the
primary purpose of the respiratory component of the health assessment scheme,
in particular health protection, prevention and early detection of CMDLD [coal
mine dust lung disease].
- Information about the
spectrum of diseases included in CMDLD.
- How to conduct and interpret
- An introduction to the ILO
CXR [chest x-rays] classification of pneumoconiosis.
- Information about coal dust
and silica exposure associated with the coal mining industry in Queensland.
- A visit to a mine(s), with a
focus on inspecting those jobs “at risk of dust exposure”.
- Training in how to complete
each section of the respiratory component of the health assessment form and
- Training in the use of
clinical guidelines for follow-up and appropriate referral in cases where
respiratory abnormalities are found.
An experienced Medical Officer should be responsible for the
ongoing training and audit of those NMAs undertaking respiratory assessments.
NMA training and auditing should utilise effective methods of
modern communication, such as webinars, where geographical constraints make
The committee supports the recommendations made in Professor Sim's
interim report and urges the Queensland Government to implementing these
The committee is sceptical of the role of the NMAs, particularly given
the risk of regulatory capture by mining companies. However, the committee did
not receive enough evidence to enable a clear determination on the continuation
of the NMAs role. The committee believes that the NMA role should be part of
consideration in the National Coal Dust Monitoring Group recommended by the
committee. At a minimum the committee believes that the positions of NMAs must
be both independent and statutory‑based, with selections approved by
specialist advice from organisations such as the Thoracic Society or the Lung
The committee recommends that in the short term the Queensland
Government mitigate the risk of regulatory capture of the Nominated Medical
Advisors by making the role an independent statutory position, selected through
a rigorous process conducted by Queensland Health in consultation with the
Department of Natural Resources and Mines and specialists groups such as the
Thoracic Society and the Lung Foundation.
As noted with regard to coal dust exposure and medical screening, the
committee received a number of recommendations which were based on a national
approach. In particular, the committee supports the recommendations of the
Thoracic Society and Lung Foundation Australia which could form the basis for a
national best practice health monitoring model encompassing:
a nation-wide action to protect workers from dust disease by
enhancement of the current framework for regulation of dust management and
surveillance of exposed workers for respiratory disease;
publication of Australian jurisdictions' current screening
mandatory participation of coal miners and workers exposed to
respirable free silica in a regular screening program;
establishment and mandatory reporting of pneumoconiosis cases of
all types (including CWP) to a national registry;
referral for all coal miners presenting with respiratory symptoms
for assessment to a respiratory specialist physician, ideally with
qualifications in occupational lung disease;
ongoing discussions in relation to development of the optimal
construct of a screening program, including radiological interpretation and
respiratory function testing suited to the Australian context;
development of GP training materials to identify and refer coal
miners, including retired workers with respiratory disease, to a respiratory
ongoing screening for miners who have since retired.
As the committee's inquiry has progressed, the committee has been
horrified that a disease thought to be eradicated in Australia for over 30
years has re-emerged. The committee believes that all stakeholders must work
together to halt the re‑emergence of CWP. The recommendations in this
report should form the base-line of immediate and medium term Commonwealth and
state measures to ensure that CWP can be prevented. Failure to take up these
recommendations will fail Australian coal workers. In this regard, the
committee echoes the wise words of Mr Percy Verrall at the committee's hearing
on 7 March 2016 in Brisbane:
I do not want to see any of the younger generation coming in,
in that condition. It has to be fixed up so they do not get black lungs like
all the other miners. They could finish up just the same way as me or be
walking around with an oxygen bottle hooked up to them all the time.
Senator Deborah O'Neill
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