PRECAUTION: A chest X-ray being carried out by Coal Services looking for lung disease.The NSW Resources Regulator said on Thursday it was investigating two new cases of dust disease in the state’s coal industry.
One case relates to a current worker who has been diagnosed with mixed dustpneumoconiosis.
It is this potentially fatal condition that has traditionally been known as “black lung”.
Black lung was believed to have been eradicated from the n coal industry many years ago but more than 15 cases have been detected in Queensland since 2015.
As the Newcastle Herald reported at the time, the first new NSW case was reported in February this year.
The regulator said thelatest worker to be diagnosedhad spent much of his career in the NSW coal industry, mostly underground, but has not worked in a production-related role since 2004.
The second case relates toa worker diagnosed with a confirmed case of simple silicosis, a similar, but different, condition.
The regulator said this worker was currently employed at a NSW mine. He had also worked extensively in the mining and tunnelling industries both interstate and overseas.
The Resources Regulator’s Chief Compliance Officer, Anthony Keon, said both workers were detected through health surveillance screening, which is provided to all current and retired coal workers as part of the NSW regulatory framework.
“Ensuring the appropriate management of airborne contaminants has been a key priority for the Resources Regulator and the detection of two confirmed cases of dust diseases is of significant concern,” Mr Keon said.
“The priority is to ensure these workers are getting the best possible level of support and care – and ensuring that airborne containments are actively being controlled throughout the NSW mining industry.
“The Resources Regulator’s major investigation unit is now investigating each case and will look closely to see if there were breaches of the work health and safety laws.
“We want to reduce the chances of dust disease occurring in the future and this investigation may help usto further strengthen our regulatory framework to prevent these types of cases developing.”
The regulator said coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and silicosis werepreventable diseases if appropriate dust control, atmospheric monitoring and worker monitoring measures are in place at mines.
It said Coal Services –the former Joint Coal Board, now owned 50/50 by the CFMEU mining division and the NSW Minerals Council –wasworking with both mine workers to provide them with the appropriate level of care and support.
Current and former coal workers are encouraged to contact Coal Services Health at Singleton on 6571 9900 to arrange a medical if they have any concerns over their health.