Nov 05, 2019

Sufferers vie for a better return to work process

Sufferers vie for a better return to work process

The coal miner’s union is lobbying for a consistent rehabilitation process for workers diagnosed with black lung disease.

There have been five new cases of mine dust lung disease reported in the past week bringing the offical toll to 125, said CFMEU Queensland branch president Steve Smyth.

The union, peak industry bodies representing mine owners and government are meeting tomorrow (Thursday 7 November) at a shareholders rehabilitation and return to work forum.

The current approach left a bit to be desired said Mr Smythe.

“Some mine sites have a pathway which includes getting back on site, others are happy to have a miner with a confirmed diagnosis remain at home on full pay,” he said.

“Our preference and that of our members, is to have them back in the workforce. Obviously not in dusty environments but that is something we need to work through as part of the clinical pathway.

“The numbers of diagnosed cases continues to rise. We’ve had five in the last week alone. The last case was a man who retired in 2013”

Queensland had a world-class screening and monitoring capability which had recently been extended to retired workers, said Mr Smythe.

Steve Smythe

The union also wanted cases of black lung to be reported as Lost Time Injuries, which is currently not the case said Mr Smythe.

“There is definitely a gap here where those diagnosed are put on a clinical pathway for treatment but are not registered as an LTI,” he said.

“It is the very nature of an LTI as they were injured while carrying out their role at work.

“I think it has something to do with LTIs reflecting badly on the mine site and management firstly. It also affects insurance premiums which may have something to do with it.

“We will be raising it at the meeting this Thursday.”

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