The Queensland Government will invest $5 million in research to protect workers from, and improve treatment for, occupational dust lung diseases, including silicosis and coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (black lung).
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said occupational dust lung diseases impacted on all aspects of the lives of affected workers and their families.
“Every worker should be able to come home safely from work every day to family and friends,” she said.
“These lung diseases are preventable and have limited treatment options, particularly where a worker has advanced disease.
“That’s why we committed at the election to fund research: to help prevent these diseases, to pick them up earlier in affected workers, and to find more and better effective treatments for affected workers.
“This builds on our strong record of reforms to protect the health and safety of Queensland workers, particularly in the engineered stone benchtop sector and the coal mining industry.”
Expressions of interest are now open at QTenders, closing 14 June, and will be assessed by a panel of local, national and international health, safety, medical and research experts, with successful applicants announced by August.
Ms Grace said the research funding commitment furthered the Queensland Government’s nation-leading role in protecting workers from lung dust diseases and supporting affected workers. This includes:
- issuing urgent safety warnings to industry on the dangers of engineered stone and banning dry cutting
- ensuring a robust and ongoing enforcement and compliance campaign with statewide audits of all known Queensland stone benchtop workplaces
- producing Australia’s first Code of Practice for the engineered stone industry
- establishing Australia’s first dust lung diseases register and making lung dust diseases notifiable so Queensland Health can monitor and analyse data about people diagnosed in Queensland.
- developing Australia’s first Clinical Pathway Guidelines, for the engineered stone benchtop industry and its workers.
- a one-stop shop for workers to get information, services and support on occupational dust lung diseases
- improved workers compensation and support for workers suffering from dust lung diseases
- free lung health checks for former or retired Queensland coal workers.
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