Purpose of the scheme

The Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme (CMWHS) is used to determine fitness for work, and to provide early diagnosis and intervention for respiratory diseases like coal mine workers’ pneumoconiosis and silicosis. It does this by:

  • screening coal mine workers to detect early signs of disease
  • referring workers for follow-up, diagnosis and management, if required
  • reducing dust exposure for workers with respiratory abnormalities
  • collecting, analysing and reporting data to support reviews of dust exposure levels and occupational exposure limits for coal mines.

Who does the scheme apply to?

The scheme applies to workers employed in high-risk tasks in Queensland coal mines. This includes workers employed on coal exploration permits, mineral development licences and mining leases. (Check schedule 3 of the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 for a definition of the term 'coal mine'). Workers employed in low-risk tasks (e.g. office work) are not covered by the scheme.

Coal mine workers who are permanently retiring from the coal mining industry can request an exit assessment as part of the scheme.

Roles and responsibilities

The Queensland Government works with employers, medical practitioners, unions and mine workers to deliver the scheme. The scheme is overseen by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME). The roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders are listed below.

Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy

  • Oversight of the CMWHS framework.
  • Ensure compliance with legislation on health assessments.
  • Monitor worksite hazardous exposure data for individual worksites.
  • Provide information about current and emerging health hazards.
  • Ensure that respiratory health assessments adapt with advances in research and technology.
  • Undertake education and monitoring activities.
  • Provide a framework for the registration of health assessment providers.
  • Identify, develop and mandate standards and training for the conduct of respiratory health assessments.
  • Ensure quality assurance of respiratory health assessment providers.
  • Audit health assessment and examination reports.
  • Ensure stakeholders comply with legislation.
  • Provide a dispute resolution mechanism for workers.
  • Ensure appropriate record management.
  • Undertake group health surveillance.
  • Participate as a member of relevant committees or other groups.

Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health

  • Provide advice to the Minister on mine safety and health matters, generally.
  • Monitor and report to the Minister and Parliament on the performance of DNRME in regulating mine safety and on the regulator’s administration of provisions about safety and health under the mining legislation.
  • Chair the Coal Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee and the Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee.
  • Initiate a proceeding for an offence under legislation.
  • Engage with, and provide an independent link between, stakeholders on mining safety and health issues.
  • Provide dispute resolution/arbitration to miners and mine operators on safety and health matters.
  • Ensure awareness among stakeholders that there is to be no reprisal against mine and quarry workers reporting health and safety concerns.
  • Promote community knowledge and awareness of mining and quarrying safety and health.
  • Maintain and monitor advisory committee safety and health standards of competency within the mining and quarrying industry.

Employers

  • Arrange and pay for workers' health assessments.
  • Appoint 1 or more medical practitioners as their appointed medical advisers (AMAs) in writing and notify DNRME on appointment and ending of engagement.
  • Use providers registered with DNRME to undertake respiratory health assessments.
  • Use health surveillance information provided by DNRME to inform preventative measures.
  • Provide current and emerging respiratory health information to workers.
  • Participate as a member of relevant committees or other groups.

Coal mine operator (CMO)

  • Ensure the health and safety of workers.
  • Provide current and emerging respiratory health information to workers.

Site senior executive (SSE)

  • Ensure the health and safety of workers.
  • Ensure all relevant information required to discharge duties is received.
  • Provide notification to the Mines Inspectorate of any notifiable diseases.
  • Provide current and emerging respiratory health information to workers.
  • Ensure workers diagnosed with mine dust lung disease receive adequate support.

Medical practitioners

  • Undertake high quality respiratory health assessments.
  • Forward completed health assessments to DNRME.
  • Ensure a copy of section 4 of the health assessment form is provided to the worker.
  • Provide health assessment information to the affected worker.
  • Ensure record management of coal mine workers' health assessments.
  • Ensure any abnormal medical results are treated in accordance with the CMWHS clinical diagnostic pathway.
  • Ensure standards and training requirements of registration are met and be willing to accept periodic audits.
  • Where use of other providers is required, use only providers registered with DNRME.
  • Provide current and emerging respiratory health information to workers.
  • Participate as a member of relevant committees or other groups.

Coal mine workers

  • Participate in respiratory health assessments.
  • Proactively raise concerns relating to respiratory health.
  • Follow site requirements and comply with controls provided to manage respiratory health risks.
  • Seek early medical advice for signs and symptoms of respiratory problems.
  • Manage hazards in the work environment and report controls that are not functioning.

Worker representatives

  • Encourage workers to participate in the CMWHS.
  • Relay concerns from workers about respiratory health and associated hazards.
  • Work with government and industry stakeholders to resolve issues.
  • Participate as a member of relevant committees or other groups.

Contact

Contact the Health Surveillance Unit