The Queensland Government will spend $25 million over the next two years to protect the health and safety of the state’s coal workers.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the funds will be used to implement a number of reforms recommended in a report by the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee.
“I acknowledge the findings of the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee, and their agreement with me, that there has been a gross systemic failure in the detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis for more than 20 years,” Dr Lynham said.
“As I noted in August 2016, before the establishment of the Select Committee, fundamental change to the regulatory arrangements for coal mine worker health and the supporting administrative system is required.”
According to the Minister, the Government accepted all of the report’s 68 recommendations, including the establishment of an independent regulator, improved oversight and enforcement of respirable dust monitoring and improved health arrangements and workers compensation and rehabilitation for workers.
“Our government will invest another $21.051 million over two years – this financial year and next – on top of our existing commitment of $3.737 million to achieve this,” Mr Lynham continued.
“Due to the complexity of some of the recommendations, we believe addition analysis and consultation is required to implement those recommendations.”
The reforms in question will be implemented in parallel with the ongoing work on the 18 Monash recommendations, which are all either implemented or well advanced.
Some of these reforms include double-checking the compulsory chest X-rays; compulsory health assessment of all coal mine workers when they enter the industry, while they are working, and when they retire; and a new recognised standard for underground respirable dust control aimed at identifying key areas of dust generation and managing the risk of worker exposure.