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International black lung expert trains Queensland radiologists and doctors

4 December 2017

A leading expert in coal mine dust lung disease is spending 10 days in Queensland to further strengthen the skills of local radiologists and doctors undertaking examinations to screen for occupational lung disease.

The engagement of Dr Robert Cohen and his team by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) completes a busy year implementing the recommendations of the Monash University review into the respiratory component of the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme.

DNRM’s Executive Director, Resources Safety and Health, Mark Stone said the department had invited Dr Cohen, from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), to Queensland as part of its ongoing push to enhance knowledge and expertise in this area.

“As a leading expert, it made sense to bring Dr Cohen down here to work directly with our local radiologists and doctors who perform health assessments for our coal miners,” Mr Stone said.

“NIOSH training in the international standard for reading coal miners’ chest X-rays will mean more Australian radiologists will have the ‘B-reader’ certification”.

“This will complement the transition from dual-reading of chest X-rays in the US to local provider Lung Screen Australia from early next year.”  

Dr Cohen will also conduct workshops in Brisbane and Mackay for doctors who perform coal miner health assessments.

Mr Stone said the December training programs are key initiatives in the on-going response to protect our mine workers from mine dust lung disease, which this year has included:

  • new recognised standards for respirable dust monitoring, reporting and dust control, to help mines identify areas of dust generation and assist with managing the risk of worker exposure;
  • the new requirement for companies to provide dust monitoring data to the Mines Inspectorate every three months - which are then published online;
  • compulsory reporting of known cases of coal mine dust lung disease to the Queensland Mines Inspectorate;
  • the introduction of a retirement examination for retiring coal mine workers;
  • publication of a register of appropriately qualified and experienced doctors, spirometry providers and X-ray imaging clinics who offer health services to coal miners;
  • new standards in the delivery of lung function tests (spirometry) and chest X-ray imaging;
  • the release of a clinical referral pathway for the follow-up and investigation of abnormal screening results;
  • the appointment of Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) to deliver accreditation services for medical providers offering services to coal mine workers;
  • new guidelines for the management of respirable crystalline silica which sets standards for dust monitoring and health surveillance in the minerals and quarrying sectors.

For more information on mine dust lung disease, visit: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/mining-energy-water/resources/safety-health/mining/accidents-incidents/mine-dust-lung-diseases

For more information about DNRM’s response to the Monash Review visit: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/mining-energy-water/resources/safety-health/mining/medicals/pneumoconiosis/monash-review

Contact: Amity Sturwohld
Phone: 3199 8245

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Last updated: 4 December 2017


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