DARK DIAGNOSIS: Former central Queensland coal miner Percy Verrall has been diagnosed with Black Lung after decades working underground. There are concerns many more central Queensland miners may have the disease.
DARK DIAGNOSIS: Former central Queensland coal miner Percy Verrall has been diagnosed with Black Lung after decades working underground. There are concerns many more central Queensland miners may have the disease. Lliams

Union “cautiously supportive" of review

THE CFMEU is "cautiously supportive" of the first recommendations stemming from the Queensland Government's review into screening practices of Black Lung disease.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Queensland District President Stephen Smyth has welcomed the recommendations, but said they needed to be done in the right way.

A panel investigating the re-emergence of black lung in Queensland has made 31 recommendations in a draft overview of their interim findings.

The group, led by Monash University Professor Malcolm Sim, presented an eight-page draft overview of their interim findings to a reference group of union, industry, medical and government representatives in Brisbane on Friday.

Mr Smyth said the union supported the recommendation to have a tripartite group look at the screening aspect.

"That needs to be done by independent assessors and not doctors, or other medical professionals, aligned to coal companies," Mr Smyth said.

"The nominated medical assessors need to be trained and competent to the ILO standards for detecting Black Lung, including to the B Reader level which we all accept is world's best practice, and is already being used by coal companies in Queensland such as Vale."

Mr Smyth said for families and workers to be confident that their loved ones were getting the right advice, with screenings robust, transparent, and not influenced by industry.

"Our members and their families need to have faith and confidence in the system that is assessing the health of their loved ones. That faith has been ripped away with the inability of the industry to detect multiple cases of the disease and that needs to be rebuilt," Mr Smyth said.

"There is still a lot of work to be done to address the current issues and ensure all present coal miners have a clean bill of health and are free of Black Lung.

"When the current crop of underground miners are checked, we then have to work through miners in open cuts, and those retired or no longer working in the industry."



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