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 the scheme applies 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 Resources Safety & Health Queensland (RSHQ). The roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders are listed below.

  • 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
  • Provide advice to the Minister on matters relating to safety and health in the resources sector.
  • Respond to requests by the Minister for advice on particular matters, including the strategic direction of RSHQ.
  • Monitor, review and report to the Minister on the performance of RSHQs functions.
  • Chair the Coal Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee and the Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee.
  • Engage with representatives of the explosives sector, and petroleum and gas sector, about promoting and protecting the safety and health of persons who may be affected by the operation of those sectors.
  • Arrange and pay for workers' health assessments.
  • Appoint 1 or more medical practitioners as their appointed medical advisers (AMAs) in writing and select their AMAs in ResHealth to notify RSHQ of their appointment.
  • Use providers registered with RSHQ to undertake respiratory health assessments.
  • Use health surveillance information provided by RSHQ to inform preventative measures.
  • Provide current and emerging respiratory health information to workers.
  • Participate as a member of relevant committees or other groups.
  • Ensure the health and safety of workers.
  • Provide current and emerging respiratory health information to workers.
  • 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.
  • Undertake high quality respiratory health assessments.
  • Forward completed health assessments to RSHQ.
  • Ensure a copy of the health assessment report 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 investigated, reported and reviewed in accordance with the Mine dust lung disease clinical pathways guideline (PDF, 789KB).
  • 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 RSHQ.
  • Provide current and emerging respiratory health information to workers.
  • Participate as a member of relevant committees or other groups.
  • 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.
  • 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.