A Budget boost of almost $1.2 million will see a health service-on-wheels deliver vital medical checks to coal workers throughout regional Queensland.
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said a new mobile health screening service would mean respiratory health checks would be accessible to more Queensland coal mine workers.
The mobile service - an equipped and staffed van - was recommended by the Parliamentary Select Committee into coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and will supplement existing regional specialist services.
“These are more funds for more reforms to protect the health and safety of our 38,000 Queensland coal mine workers,” Dr Lynham said.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the health and safety of all Queenslanders was a top priority of the Palaszczuk Government.
“This new mobile service will ensure increased respiratory checks and improved health outcomes for our thousands of coal mine workers across the state,” she said.
The Budget provides $1.21 million over two years for the mobile screening service, which will help improve the detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (black lung), silicosis and other mine dust lung diseases.
This comes on top of nearly $25 million committed in 2017 to black lung health and safety reforms.
After three years of reform, Queensland coal workers now receive free respiratory health checks when they start in the industry, when they leave, and every five years while they are working.
Free checks also are available for retired or former coal mine workers.
All doctors and radiologists who offer health services receive specialist training and are registered, as are the X-ray imaging clinics.
Dr Lynham said the screening van would supplement existing services in communities including Moranbah, Rockhampton, Mackay and Emerald.
“This mobile unit will only enhance the local specialist capability and make respiratory health checks available to more Queenslanders,” he said.
Dr Lynham said the next step would be to work with stakeholders on the best way to partner with local providers to deliver the service.
“In the mean time I encourage any worker with concerns to see their GP and for everyone to use the free respiratory health checks now available to current and past Queensland coal workers.”
“Early detection is critical.”
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the mobile screening service was a very welcome initiative.
“Living in the heart of a mining region and having been on the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee and I am aware of the effects that these coal dust-related diseases can have on workers,’’ Mrs Gilbert said.
“There is no doubt that more had to be done to protect the health our mine workers and we are doing so with the reforms. This service is another step that will aid in detection of this insidious disease.’’
Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
The Honourable Jackie Trad
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham