The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy union said self-regulation of dust levels could be a major factor in the return of Black Lung.
Cohen told the committee that: “I think deregulation doesn't work. We've had pretty good evidence. For many years our industry stated that they could just self-police, that they would you know, police themselves and do this. And it really didn't work.”
Flemming said: “If you don't measure and you don't monitor and do it accurately and independently, how do you actually know those controls are working?”
General Secretary of the Mining and Energy Division of the CFMEU, Andrew Vickers said companies who claimed they were committed to safe workplaces needed to support a move to independent monitoring and reporting.
“Despite representatives from Vale and Anglo-American claiming that they are ‘effectively managing dust levels’, official reports from the Queensland Mine Inspectorate show a trend upwards in dust levels,” Vickers said.
“We have to look at the appropriateness of companies looking after their own regulation.
“This happens every downturn. Companies try to save every penny and corners are cut when it comes to safety.”
But one area the union and the mining companies agreed was the need for a more comprehensive inquiry into Black Lung, a move welcomed by CFMEU Mining and Energy Division President Steve Smyth.
“To have representatives from Vale and Anglo-American come forward and say they would support a broader inquiry that looked at the whole Black Lung issue, from the health care side through to new monitoring regimes, and new dust level limits is an important step forward,” Smyth said.
“We will be holding the mining companies to their word, and will ensure they maintain their view that industry should provide compensation to workers and provide medical checks for the whole of a miners life.”