Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace on Thursday said that since the re-emergence of black lung disease, the Queensland Government has ramped up efforts to tackle the disease and support those workers affected by it.
“Whether you’re a retired or working coal miner, if you’ve been diagnosed with CWP, we will ensure you receive the full range and benefits and entitlements available through Queensland’s workers’ compensation system.
“Workers already have access to no fault statutory compensation through WorkCover, along with common law damages – and this is not limited by a worker’s employment status or age.
“But we’re committed to strengthening even further the existing protections for workers diagnosed with CWP, through Queensland’s workers’ compensation system.
“That’s why last year I announced the formation of stakeholder reference group, and tasked it with identifying any gaps in the current workers’ compensation scheme for workers with CWP.
“Today I can announce that the reference group has reported back to me and that the government will implement its recommendations in full, namely:
- Medical examinations for former coal mine workers concerned they may have CWP, and who have retired or left the coal mining industry prior to 1 January 2017 – with costs to be borne by WorkCover;
- Ensuring workers with simple CWP who experience disease progression can apply to re-open their claim to access further benefits under the workers’ compensation scheme;
- Extra rehabilitation support to assist workers back into suitable alternative employment; and
- Streamlining workers compensation arrangements so they properly align with the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme.
“I want to thank the stakeholder reference group for identifying these improvements, and I also want to acknowledge the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee and its efforts to ensure workers with CWP get all the support they need.
“I also want to pay tribute to my Cabinet colleague Dr Anthony Lynham for his outstanding efforts to tackle the re-emergence of this insidious disease.
“My department will work with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines to ensure these recommendations are implemented as a matter of the highest priority.”