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Independent review informs action on NSW Coal Worker Health Surveillance Scheme

The NSW Government-commissioned independent review into coal worker health has informed an action plan to improve the screening and reporting of occupational dust lung disease among mineworkers.

The NSW Mine Safety Advisory Council (MSAC) unanimously accepted all 16 recommendations from The University of Illinois (Chicago)’s report on the Review of the New South Wales Health Surveillance Scheme for Coal Mine Workers and agreed to their implementation.

These include broadening the reporting criteria to capture all cases of coal mine dust lung disease (CMDLD) in the same way as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, or black lung, and silicosis, as well as making it a requirement for chest x-rays to be classified by accredited B Reader radiologists, who are trained in the identification of black lung.

Recommended and overseen by MSAC as part of the NSW Government’s proactive approach to the health and safety of workers in the coal industry, the review examined the health assessment routinely performed by Coal Services Health (CS Health) to ensure it was working effectively.

The final report concluded CS Health had a robust medical screening process, which had improved considerably since the re-identification of black lung in Australia in 2015, and identified areas for continued improvement in data collection, chest imaging and spirometry, or breathing function tests, as well as specialised training.

The action plan, which MSAC considered at its March and June meetings, outlines each recommendation, key actions, and the organisation responsible for delivering them – primarily CS Health. MSAC will monitor the plan’s implementation with support from the Department of Regional NSW, where necessary.

Coal Services provides health monitoring, work health and rehabilitation services and workers’ compensation as well as a mines rescue service under the Coal Industry Act 2001.

View the full Coal Worker Health Surveillance Scheme Review Report (PDF, 959.61 KB).

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