New black lung victim "missed" by doctors, says union
A NEW case of black lung disease has been confirmed by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, bringing the total number of cases in Queensland to 15.
CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said the man had worked in underground longwall mines for 36 years, most recently at Vale's Carborough Downs mine.
He said the man, who doesn't want to be named, was a 54-year-old explosion risk zone controller, or mining deputy.
Mr Smyth said the man had been cleared by health professionals on two occasions in less than a year.
In May last year, the man underwent an x-ray and medical professionals gave him a "clear bill of health" .
Mr Smyth said Dr Bob Cohen, who was tasked by the State Government to examine miner's chest x-rays as part of the Sim review, had identified black lung in the miner and called for further tests.
He said a nominated medical adviser then cleared a CT scan conducted in March this year.
Mr Smyth said that about a week ago, the man got a text from the adviser saying 'we thought you were clear but you're not'.
He said the "absolutely nonsense" incident called into question the testing process in Queensland.
"This failure shows that the black lung crisis is escalating and why coal mine workers have lost all confidence in the health and regulatory systems that are supposed to be there to keep them safe," he said.
Black lung disease, caused by inhaling respirable dust, was thought to have been eradicated in Queensland until cases began emerging late last year.
The Department of Natural Resources and Mines updated its website yesterday to say the number of black lung cases had reached 15.
A spokesman said that to protect the privacy of workers and comply with the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001 act, it could not release details of individual cases.
"The x-ray screening system has improved significantly with all coal miners' chest x-rays now being read twice - once by an Australian radiologist and again by a US-based National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health approved reader," he said.
"More than 300 x-rays have already been sent to the US to be double-checked under the new system.
"(The department) is also implementing the 17 recommendations of the independent Monash University review of the coal workers' health scheme."