QLD coal miner health checkups could face delays

Mandatory health assessments for Queensland’s coal miners may experience interruptions due to COVID-19.

The Queensland Government encouraged employees and employers to weigh up the risks of a health consultation while the pandemic is still at large.

Under the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme, Queensland coal mine workers must undergo a compulsory health assessment when they enter the industry and at least every five years in the time they are employed.

This is to protect workers from illnesses attributed to the coal mining industry like coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) or black lung.

However, the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy warned that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there might be some challenges around meeting regulations due to a lack of or limited availability of resources.

“We will take a risk-based and considered approach to issues as they arise and our compliance program will take into account the COVID-19 situation and public health advice from government,” the Queensland Government stated.

“Operators and employers should assess the risk in consultation with their appointed medical advisers and make necessary adjustments.

“For example, a worker with a health condition due for evaluation could be moved from a safety critical role until a health assessment can be undertaken.

“We recognise this may result in the delay of assessments contrary to the requirements of the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme. All parties should take a reasonable and risk-based approach to this matter during these extraordinary circumstances.”

Any delayed Coal Mine Worker’s Health Scheme appointments will be conducted as soon as reasonably practicable.