How the former worker assessment works

From 1 March 2019, former coal mine workers are eligible for an assessment consisting of a respiratory function examination and a chest X-ray examination.

Former coal mine workers can ask the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) for a voluntary assessment if each of the following apply:

  • you were a coal mine, mineral mine or quarry worker for at least 3 years in total over your lifetime, with at least some of your mining experience in Queensland
  • you have now permanently stopped being a coal mine, mineral mine or quarry worker
  • and
  • it has been at least 5 years since your most recent assessment. Note: Your most recent assessment can be less than 5 years ago if a doctor has recommended a sooner assessment, as shown in your last health assessment record or a medical certificate.

Former worker assessment process

If an eligible worker asks for a former worker assessment, DNRME will arrange and pay for the assessment.

The assessment is conducted by an approved doctor registered with the DNRME using the approved former worker assessment form in accordance with section 49F of the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017.

Apply using the former worker assessment application form (PDF, 376KB).

For more information about former worker assessments, and for help completing the form, contact the Health Surveillance Unit by phoning (07) 3818 5420 or email to FormerWorker@dnrme.qld.gov.au.

Chest X-ray examination

Former worker assessments include a chest X-ray to detect coal mine dust lung diseases such as coal workers' pneumoconiosis. Images are dual-read by B-readers who have been accredited by the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

These readers examine chest X-rays to the International Labour Organization International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses (ILO Classification).

Since July 2016, US-based B-readers accredited by NIOSH have provided a dual-reading service to Queensland's coal mine workers.

On 1 March 2019, Lungscreen Australia replaced US-based B-reading for all Queensland coal mine worker chest X-rays. All chest X-rays must now be sent to Lungscreen Australia.

Amendments to the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017 that commenced on 1 March 2019 made this a mandatory requirement of the Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme.

Lungscreen will classify coal mine worker chest X-rays to the ILO Classification and will provide the final ILO report back to the referring doctor.

Other Australian B-readers registered with DNRME can undertake the first B-read and provide this to Lungscreen to complete the dual-reading process.

If the chest X-ray examination identified abnormalities, the supervising doctor is required to follow the Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme (CMWHS) Clinical pathways guideline (PDF, 702KB) for follow-up investigations and referral to appropriate medical specialists.

DNRME will send a sample of chest X-rays and ILO Classification reports to US-based B-readers for audit as part of the ongoing quality assurance program as recommended by the Monash University review.

Record keeping and reporting requirements

When the former worker assessment is complete, the supervising doctor sends:

  • the completed former worker assessment form and all medical reports (chest X-ray images and reports, spirometry report, CT scan report if applicable) to the Health Surveillance Unit, Resources Safety and Health, PO Box 467, GOODNA, Queensland 4300 (all sections of the form must be completed, incomplete forms will be returned)
  • a copy of the former worker assessment report (section 3 of the form) to the coal mine worker (does not include sections 1 or 2 of the form).

The supervising doctor must keep the data on which the assessment was based and a copy of the approved form that was completed for the assessment.

Contact

Contact the Health Surveillance Unit