National News

Qld to screen miners for lung disease

The Queensland government give thousands of metal mine and quarry workers free chest x-rays and restrict dust levels at mines in a bid to cut high levels of lung disease.

Mines and Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham says the mandatory measures implemented on Tuesday are aimed at protecting workers from illnesses like black lung disease and silicosis.

Queensland has recorded 169 cases of mine-dust lung disease since 1984, but only nine cases were recorded before 2014, according to state government data.

Another 36 people were diagnosed between February and July this year.

Mandatory lung screenings are already offered to 37,000 coal miners in the state. They are now being extended to 15,000 workers at quarries and metalliferous mines, where iron ore, copper, tin, nickel, gold, silver and zinc are extracted.

Miners' lungs will be screened when they start their careers and at least once every five years after that.

After they leave the industry, workers will be offered free respiratory health checks for life.

"The most important resource to come off a mine site every day is a worker," Dr Lynham said in a statement.

"Queensland now has the toughest mine safety and health laws in the world - including the offence of industrial manslaughter."

The state government has also slashed the amount of dust allowed at mines sites across Queensland.

The limit for respirable coal dust has been cut more than 60 per cent, from 2.5 to 1.5 milligrams per cubic metre.

The permissible level of silica dust has been slashed by 95 per cent to 0.005 milligrams per cubic metre.

© AAP 2020