Assistant National Secretary, Ian Bray, reports that the MUA has recently become involved in providing evidence to Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry into the re-emergence of Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis amongst Coal Workers.
Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis, commonly referred to as ‘Black Lung Disease’ is caused by the inhalation of coal dust. Coal dust builds up in the lungs of persons exposed to it without proper safe-guards, and is unable to escape. People suffering from this disease generally develop shortness of breath, a severe cough and feel pressure on their chest. Black lung disease can develop into progressive massive fibrosis, causing major damage to the lungs and heart. Workers have been found to cough up black sputum or blood, and suffer premature death as a result.
The Parliamentary Committee responsible for conducting the inquiry recently heard evidence that exposure to coal dust inhalation does not only effect mine workers, but that it has the potential to effect workers along the supply chain, from the coal pit to the port and on ships. Those in particular who are involved in the loading of coal and in the port vicinity, including port workers, towage workers and seafarers, may be at risk of inhaling coal dust, and developing black lung disease.
As a result, we have been invited to provide a written and verbal submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry and are in the process of doing so. We ask that anyone who has any information in relation to maritime workers who have contracted black lung disease, contact Comrade Bray as a matter of urgency. Further, we recommend that anyone who has been exposed to coal dust speak to their doctor and explain their exposure to coal dust prior to undergoing any testing. We are also in the midst of contacting employers to recommend mandatory testing be done on workers who are/have been exposed to coal dust in all QLD coal loading ports.
The National Office is working closely with the Qld Branch to ensure the health and safety of our members that work with or in the proximity of coal is not excluded from any regulatory or legislative outcome as a result of this inquiry.