'Thousands' could be affected by black lung
A PUSH is on to bring in laws requiring mandatory testing for pneumoconiosis, or "black lung" amid fears thousands of coal workers could be affected.
The committee looking into black lung disease among coal workers has been given the go-ahead to draft legislation aimed at preventing the potentially fatal disease. The resulting bill could go before parliament as early as August.
The recommendations of the Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis Select Committee, 'Black Lung White Lies' was presented to industry representatives, workers and the media Monday at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre.
It includes creating an industry governing body, the Mining Safety and Health Authority, which would have its headquarters in Mackay.
Committee chair and Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller said she is expecting more coal workers to be diagnosed with black lung.
"In the coming years, there could be hundreds (of cases), there could be thousands, but we need to get on top of this issue right now," she said.
"The human tragedy in relation to this disease is just unspeakable. We have seen many coal miners and their families, big, burly men, come before us in tears."
One former open-cut mine worker who attended, John Hempseed, was concerned the recommendations may not progress to being law.
"I would like to see the people on this committee complete the job. I would be concerned if the committee changed too much after the election and we had too many new faces.
"We've got a committee that's done a good job so far and they should be allowed to get through and finish the job."
When asked if he thought mines would comply, he said: "It's up to everyone to make sure they do comply. No matter who's in government, the unions will have to continue to fight for these things to be done. Hopefully this can prevent the disease from spreading to other people."