May 09, 2017




Changes to Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme in 2017

The Department of Mines and Natural Resources recently announced changes to regulations surrounding the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme. These changes will take effect on 1st January. This will affect your company and employees as new paperwork and medicals are required. This in part is due to the recent review of pneumoconiosis (Coal Miners Lund disease) in Queensland.

A summary of the changes are outlined.

Health Assessments

  • Two new sections included in the health assessment.
    • Reasons for the health assessment and matters to be addressed.
      • This section should be completed by employers to comply with legislation. It outlines what tests are required for the medical.
    • Requirement for respiratory function and CXR (chest xray) examination.
      • Coal mine workers who work aboveground MUST now have a respiratory function and CXR examination at least once every 10 years.
      • Coal mine workers who currently work aboveground but have previously worked underground must have a respiratory function and CXR at least once every 5 years. This includes any coal mine worker who has worked ONE or more shifts underground.
    • Doctors must now compare respiratory function tests to the previous medical.
    • Spirometry (test of breathing function) must be performed according to Queensland Health Standards. It would be prudent to ensure that your nominated medical advisor is following the correct procedure and is trained to do so.

Retirement Examinations

Coal mine workers permanently retiring from the industry can ask their employer for a retirement examination. The employer is responsible for organising and paying for this examination. There are guidelines as to how this information can be shared between patient and employer. This can be discussed with your NMA.

2 reader CXR process and Lung Disease

  • Currently, Aal chest xrays must be dual read, by and Australian radiologist and an approved read from Chicago.
  • It is expected in 2017 this will transition to dual reading by Australian radiologists.
  • Coal mine Senior Executives will have to report the following diseases.
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
    • Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.
    • Legionellosis (if the exposure was occupational).
    • Silicosis (if the worker was exposed to crystalline silica dust at the mine).

These guidelines are designed to improve the detection of pneumoconiosis in coal mine workers. Companies should ensure that they are following correct procedure and that their nominated medical advisors are aware of the changes. Companies could be exposed both legally and financially if there are variations from any of these guidelines.

If you aren’t sure how these changes will affect you, speak to the team at Corporate Doctors Plus.

Comments are closed.