Health and Safety CONFERENCE

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Meeting the Challenges of Caring for Dust Disease Victims in Our Coal Mines

James Pearce
Advocate, Black Lung Victims Support Group

The re-emergence of Dust Diseases in Queensland’s coal industry is having a devastating effect on workers, their families and mining communities. More than 100 employees have been diagnosed as suffering from different forms of pneumoconiosis, predominantly Black Lung and silicosis. There are many more Victims being regularly identified.

While the main challenge facing our entire industry is the effective prevention of Dust Diseases in our coal mines, the identification of all Victims is a moral obligation on all stakeholders in the industry. This involves not only world’s best practice testing of the present workforce but also of those who have retired from the industry and those who have left it before retiring.

While prevention and identification of Black Lung are essential, the most pressing issue at the present time is the treatment and health care of those who have been, and will continue to be, Victims of these Dust Diseases. This paper on behalf of Black Lung Victims will outline our proposals for how the industry working with government can provide for the life-long medical care needed for the best possible quality of life for sufferers. We owe them at least that.