The news comes ahead of US black lung disease expert Dr Bob Cohen’s visit to Queensland and victims of the disease.
He is the expert who identified various black lung cases in Australia despite several Queensland medical professionals having initially cleared workers of the disease.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said while the union welcomed the Queensland government’s Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Inquiry, the mining industry had to take responsibility for the disease and support its victims.
“We’ve now reached the 19th confirmed case of black lung in Australia in less than 18 months – and this number will likely rise,” he said.
“The mining industry cannot continue to turn a blind eye to its responsibility.
“The system of identifying and remedying the causes of the disease have clearly failed, and it is workers and their families who are paying the price.
“The mining industry sits at the centre of the problem and it is the mining industry that needs to play a key role in supporting victims and their families.”
The union is calling for mining companies to fund a Victims’ Fund, paid for by an industry-funded levy of 10 cents on every tonne of coal produced in the state.
“This is a small price for mining giants to pay when many workers have already paid with their health and their lives,” Smyth said.
“Not only does black lung have a severe effect on workers’ health, it impacts their families and communities.”