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Qld coal workers should retake medical tests says authority

Resources Safety and Health Queensland
Resources Safety and Health Queensland

Mine employees have been asked to complete a second round of medical screening across the Sunshine State.

More than 100 Queensland coal workers were recently urged to have their lungs reexamined. This is because the first round of testing was “substandard”.

“We are recommending all those affected workers undertake repeat spirometry tests. While we always work with medical providers to improve screening quality through education and advice we do not shy away from taking appropriate regulatory action where necessary to protect workers’ health and safety,” Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) health strategy and compliance director Patrick Jensen said in a public statement.

The remarks came after the regulator audited lung function tests and found 30 per cent of one practice’s spirometry tests were “unacceptable” and failed to meet minimum quality standards, with 135 coal employees impacted.

The practice also failed to:

  • conduct the tests effectively
  • identify issues in test results
  • repeat tests multiple times to the same level as required
  • maintain accurate comments which led to incorrect test interpretation.

The medical provider was suspended for six months.

State Premier Steven Miles expressed “concern” about RSHQ’s findings.

“RSHQ have done the right thing in identifying this problem,” he said according to the Australian Associated Press.

“No worker should be at risk of injury or death just for going to work and that is why we have these tough mine safety laws, and why we have this extensive screening for resource-related diseases.”

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