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Lung tests in Queensland coal mine ‘unacceptable’ – 135 may be affected

By Fraser Barton in Brisbane

Queensland’s resources regulator has suspended a health practice after an audit found 135 miners have undergone inadequate lung testing.

May 09, 2024, updated May 09, 2024
Women miners (BHP photo)

Women miners (BHP photo)

Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) suspended the Mackay-based practice for six months after their audit revealed 30 per cent of the provider’s spirometry tests were unacceptable and did not meet minimum quality standards.

Spirometry testing assesses lung function by measuring airflow in and out and can identify breathing impairments seen in black lung disease.

The audit found the practice failed to effectively conduct the tests, identify issues in the results and maintain accurate comments, leading to incorrect test interpretation and multiple repeat tests.

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A total of 135 workers had been impacted by the poor testing, RSHQ said.

“We’re recommending all those affected workers undertake repeat spirometry tests,” said RSHQ Director of Health Strategy and Compliance Patrick Jensen.

“While we always work with medical providers to improve screening quality through education and advice, we don’t shy away from taking appropriate regulatory action where necessary to protect workers’ health and safety.”

Mr Jensen said all coal mine workers impacted by the audit findings, as well as the workers’ employers and doctors, are being contacted.

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