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More miners expected to be diagnosed with Black Lung

Former coal miner Percy Verrall has been diagnosed with ’Black Lung’ after decades working underground.
Former coal miner Percy Verrall has been diagnosed with ’Black Lung’ after decades working underground. Rob Williams

MORE miners are expected to be diagnosed with the potentially deadly "black lung disease", also known as coal miner's pneumoconiosis.

Professor Malcolm Sim, the expert tasked with assessing the State's black lung screening system, said the review that started last year would go over miners' past x-rays and medical records.

"The real question is what is the extent of that increase?" he said.

The CFMEU's Jason Hill said the mining union feared many more people would be diagnosed.

He said the union had up to 40 names of people concerned they or a family member might have the disease, or had died from it.

"The best treatment for it, from my understanding, is get it diagnosed early and it's sort of controllable," Mr Hill said.

"But once you go to the stage two of it, you're more or less looking at a death sentence."

Mr Hill said he believed mines had been exceeding the mandated coal dust levels for a long time and "the system" had let miners down.

Five miners have already been diagnosed with the disease.

It is understood three people were from the Carborough Downs Mine, south-west of Mackay, one was from Grasstree Mine, north-west of Rockhampton and the other was from Ipswich.

Prof Sim is expected to complete an interim report on his review of the Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme by the end of March and detailed recommendations by about June.

The Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme sees miners have chest x-rays when they start work, at least every five years and when they retire.

Dr Lynham said the mines department and Queensland Health were cross-checking their current records.

Topics:  black lung, disease, ipswich, miners




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