The union for coal miners says the screening process for picking up the potentially lethal black lung disease “is a mess” after revelations up to 1,000 Queensland mine workers could have contracted the crippling condition.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) said 6 cases of coal miner’s pneumoconiosis — caused by long-term inhalation of coal dust — were already confirmed in the state, while an unknown number were yet to be diagnosed.
That actual number could reportedly be as high as 1,000.
The union said it was likely many former miners could have gone undiagnosed with the crippling disease because symptoms often developed many years following exposure and long after miners have retired.
The situation is so serious that a senate inquiry will sit in Queensland this month to investigate the re-emergence of the disease. The union’s full submission to the inquiry can be read here.
CFMEU Queensland district secretary Stephen Smyth blamed mining company doctors and the health department for the outbreak of cases, saying it was the result of decades of mismanagement.
“Unfortunately as the result of all this we’ve got 6 confirmed cases of pneumoconiosis and an unknown number of others, it’s the tip of the iceberg,” he told The Huffington Post Australia.
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