Efforts to broaden black lung inquiry to investigate dust exposure risks for workers welcome

23 March 2017

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have today welcomed efforts to broaden a Parliamentary inquiry into black lung to look at the full extent of dust exposure risks for workers, following the release of a damning report yesterday.

Maurice Blackburn Dust Diseases law expert Jonathan Walsh said the report found that black lung had never been eradicated in Queensland, identifying a series of significant failures that allowed the disease to go undetected for decades whilst workers continued to be put at risk.

“The Committee’s report presents a bleak and scathing assessment of the lack of coordination between agencies tasked with monitoring the health and exposure risks for workers associated with coal mining,” Mr Walsh said.

“It sadly confirms that there were numerous systemic failures across the regulatory and health systems that were in place to protect workers.

“As recent evidence to the Committee has made clear also, such risks are not isolated only to above or below ground coal mine workers, with significant concerns for coal port workers, coal rail workers, coal-powered station workers and other workers regarding exposure.

“Our firm continues to support efforts for the Committee to amend its terms of reference and reporting dates to more fully look into potential exposure risks for these workers and how to remediate these risks.

“As the experience of black lung has shown, complacency can no longer be accepted – too many workers already have been placed at risk and we must take the opportunity now to properly get to the bottom of how such exposure can be better managed and reduced for future generations of workers,” he said.  

A copy of Maurice Blackburn’s full submission to the Queensland Parliament’s Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis inquiry is available here: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/committees/CWPSC/inquiries/current-inquiries/CWPSC

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