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Queensland government launches 3-pronged attack on black lung

The Queensland government will introduce tougher dustcontrols and better testing in its bid to eliminate the incidences ofpneumoconiosis, also known as black lung disease, in the state's coal industry.

So far, 11 Queensland miners have been diagnosed with blacklung, which is caused by long exposure to coal dust, since workers were firstdiagnosed in late2015.

The government's three key action areas are focused onprevention, including stricter dust management and publishing dust levelsregularly, early detection through better screening and providing a safety netfor workers with the disease.

The move comes after the release of a into thedisease that blamed systemic failures for the re-emergence of the disease,which was thought to have been eradicated in Australia by the early 1980s.

The review checked 257 long-term coal workers' X-rays; of those,18 have been recommended to undergo further tests.

Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche said July 13 thatthe final report was very "sobering reading" and a "huge wake-upcall."

"Industry is appalled at the apparent failure acrossthe spectrum of screening, from lung function tests, chest x-rays through toquestions over the qualifications and expertise of those carrying out thetesting and screening," he said.

Eight underground coal mining companies have written a jointletter of support to Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham backing the newprotocol for health screening of the state's 5,500 workers.

All underground coal mines are offering their workers newchecks on current X-rays or fresh X-rays if they were done more than two yearsago.

All new X-rays will be checked by an Australian radiologistand, as an interim measure, by U.S.-based accredited X-ray readers until localradiologists undergo further training to the international standard.

Lynham is also continuing to lobby the federal government toestablish a national screening program that includes retired coal miners.