Free, mandatory lung health checks and slashed mine dust limits take effect this week to protect Queensland’s mine and quarry workers.
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the mandatory health checks already in place for coal mine workers would extend to the state’s 15,000 metalliferous mine and quarry workers from today.
Dr Lynham said the protections were the latest in a suite of reforms to protect the health and safety of the state’s resources workers.
“Every Queensland worker has the right to a healthy career and life free of occupational disease,” he said.
“And the most important resource to come off a mine site every day is a worker.
“Queensland now has the toughest mine safety and health laws in the world – including the offence of industrial manslaughter.
“Protecting workers is in a Labor Government’s DNA.
“And our resources workers make a massive contribution to Queensland’s economy, particularly through the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we recover.”
He said coal and silica dust levels – responsible for black lung disease and silicosis – would also reduce from today.
“From today, the allowable limit for respirable coal dust is cut to 1.5 milligrams per cubic metre from 2.5 and from 1 to 0.05 milligrams per cubic metre for silica dust,” said Dr Lynham.
Today’s announcement follows a nationwide review by Safework Australia.
Dr Lynham said the government had committed three years ago to adopt Safe Work Australia’s recommendations on workplace exposure standards.
“As well, every metalliferous mine and quarry worker will have a chest X-ray that is read by at least two qualified radiologists as well as a lung function test.”
“This will happen when they start in the industry, at least once every five years during their career in the industry.
“And after they leave the industry, they can continue to have free respiratory health checks for life, if they want to.”
He said the measures would provide mineral mine and quarry workers with the same health checks as their 37,000 coal mining counterparts who already have free mandatory respiratory health screening.