Questions remain about Qld black lung screening process

HEALTH professionals assigned to review lung x-rays of Queensland's coal mining workforce are not qualified for the task of detecting “Black Lung” disease, according to the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.
Questions remain about Qld black lung screening process Questions remain about Qld black lung screening process Questions remain about Qld black lung screening process Questions remain about Qld black lung screening process Questions remain about Qld black lung screening process


Lou Caruana

CFMEU Mining and Energy district president Steve Smyth said confusion in the past has put people’s lives at risk and authorities now need to embrace “the whole ugly truth”

“The CFMEU is calling for a public clarification so the issue can be dealt with on the facts – which radiologists are trained to the ILO standard?” he said.

“Incorrect information provided to workers should be redacted and clarified, as this information is relied upon by workers seeking medical attention.”

The Queensland Chief Inspector of Coal Mines told workers in December that radiologists in Queensland are trained to the required standards, and wrote to workers to that affect.

However in correspondence to its own members, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists has made clear that only a fraction of local radiologists are qualified, according to Smyth.

“Radiologists should only report on screening chest radiographs for CWP if they have experience in reporting screening radiographs for pneumoconiosis, are familiar with the ILO Classification, are willing to report using the classification and have sufficient caseload of referrals to maintain their competence in this area,” he said.

Smyth said the questions that remain are: who is checking the x-rays and are they qualified? And why did the Department write to workers in December stating that all Queensland radiologists are qualified to carry out checks?

“In correspondence to its own members, RANZCR has made it clear that Australian radiologists are not all qualified to identify Black Lung, nor does the college seem to know how many of their members would actually meet the rigorous requirements,” he said.

“The RANZCR has said that a register of qualified radiologists would be available shortly and the union supports the establishment of such a register, but it must be a list of individuals qualified to the ILO standard.

“The union wants to work constructively with the government and stakeholders on this register and other policy change, but we have to be honest with each other and with mining workers and Black Lung victims because lives are at stake.

“In developing the register, the union wants to see documentation from RANZCR which confirms that the right level of training is provided to individuals on the list, and for the college to detail just what that training involves.

“And we call on the Queensland Government to outline their plan for ensuring that all x-rays are assessed against the ILO standards by a qualified B-Reader and how they will provide these assurances to workers.”