Changes to QLD Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme
As a consequence of the detection of “black lung” in some Queensland Miners in 2016 a review of the medical assessments process was competed. Legislation changes came into effect in 2018, with further changes in 2019. All changes are aimed to ensure coal employees are adequately screened for Coal Miners pneumoconiosis or “black lung”. Sonic HealthPlus’ Chief Medical Officer Dr Keith Adam, has been working closely with the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines to ensure changes are implemented through the Sonic HealthPlus business.
As of March 1 2019 further legislative changes come into effect that mean changes in Sonic HealthPlus’ process in regards to:
- ILO Chest Xray process and price
- Worker Lungscreen ID registration
- Approved provider network – including EMOs, NMAs, spirometry clinics and radiology providers
- Employer appointed Nominated Medical Advisor
1. Ongoing Coal Worker Medical Assessments – New-starter and Periodic
On March 1, 2019 a newly revised Health Assessment Form comes into effect. The form has been reviewed by our Quality Assurance team who advise the changes are administrative, and no additional testing requirements exist. All previous medical assessments forms have been superseded at our medical clinics.
The updated assessment contains the following components:
- Section 1 is completed by the employer. It includes information about the NMA, the employer, the worker's position, similar exposure groups and the health risks associated with employment
- Section 2 is completed by the worker. It documents the worker's personal details as well as work and medical history information. Photo ID must be brought to the assessment
- Section 3 is completed by an examining medical officer and details clinical findings
- Section 4 (the health assessment report) is completed and signed by the NMA and details fitness for duty, work restrictions and requirements for a subsequent follow-up and assessment of the worker. Only this section is forwarded to the employer.
The NMA only completes Section 4 when all examinations and follow up investigations, including the ILO outcome after the dual-B-read process. Interim Section 4’s are no longer available.
Lungscreen ID registration
The employer should advise the worker/candidate that it is mandatory to register on the Lungscreen portal. The worker/candidate will then automatically be issued with a registration number. It is vital the candidate/worker registers as soon as possible and registration is only required once.
The worker/candidate can complete the online registration here.
Ideally the workers Lungscreen ID is provided at the time of booking, but can be provided at the clinic on the day of assessment.
ILO Chest X-Ray process and price
Previously ILO Chest x-rays could be completed at most Radiology locations, with the US based B-read being coordinated (and paid for) by the DNRME.
As of March 1 2019 it is mandatory that Lungscreen Australia complete the B-read. The cost of this service is no longer paid for by DNRME, and must be borne by the employer. 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.
There will no longer be an Interim Report available. The Section 4 can only be released AFTER the final B-read by Lungscreen.
These changes will affect the cost of providing the Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme Medical to companies. For more information on these charges please contact your Client Partner.
Health 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 Pneumoconiosis (ILO Classification).
Since July 2016, US-based B-readers accredited by NIOSH have provided a dual-reading service to Queensland's coal mine workers. From 2017 the transition to Australian B-readers has been progressing. DNRME has engaged Lungscreen Australia to coordinate an Australian-based dual-read program. The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) will continue to audit a sample of chest X-rays submitted with health assessment records as part of the ongoing quality assurance program as recommended by the Monash University review.
2. Review X-Rays
All Coal mine workers require an ILO Chest X-ray every 5 years as a minimum. An ILO Chest X-ray is mandatory with any New-Starter assessment. For Periodical reviews, select the additional service of ILO Chest X-ray if the last x-ray was 5 or more years previous.
All ILO Chest X-rays must be completed at approved DNRME locations. Sonic HealthPlus will provide you with the required referral. The image must then go through a dual-B reading process within Australia. The final Section 4 can only be completed once the dual-B reading report is provided back to the Nominated Medical Advisor.
Booking your Qld Coal Workers Health Scheme Assessment
To streamline the booking of Qld Coal Worker Health Assessments and ensure compliance with the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DRNME), Sonic HealthPlus introduced a new booking process in May 2018.
Qld Coal Worker Health Assessments need to be submitted through the online appointment request page located here. The appointment request page includes a link to the Section 1 for your booking representative to complete. If the requesting information including Section 1 of the form is not supplied we will be unable to complete your bookings.
In addition, you need to provide the Lungscreen ID for the worker. Follow the link here to obtain a Lungscreen ID if you do not have one.
Appointments for Qld Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme Assessments will not be taken over the phone, via email or through Diary Direct as of the 8 May, 2018. We apologise for any inconvenience, however we have had to update our internal processes and procedures to ensure we are compliant with the legislative updates.
Queensland Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme
Medical Appointment Request Form
To ensure compliance with the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME), Sonic HealthPlus requires all requests for a QLD Coal Board Medical to be submitted though the below appointment request form. As of the 8 May 2018 requests for Qld Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme Assessments will no longer be taken over the phone, via email or through Diary Direct.
In order to request an appointment, you must complete the Section 1 form and upload it below. Right-click the red button below and save the pdf to your desktop to complete a the Section 1 form. To complete your appointment request you must provide the worker’s Lungscreen ID. Click here to register for a Lungscreen ID and have this ready when completing your appointment request below.
Note: the preferred browser for this application is Google Chrome. Please use Google Chrome to ensure that your request is received.Download Section 1 FormFor an extension click hereFor a review please click here
(Extensions only for medicals done prior to 28/2/2019)
* All Queensland Mine Workers Health Surveillance medicals require a Nominated Medical Advisor (NMA) review on top of the medical assessment components
** Without exception, you must submit a correctly completed Section 1 form in order for this request to be submitted and booked. You can download the form here.
Queensland Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme
Appoint a Nominated Medical Advisor
Sonic HealthPlus Occupational Physicians and Registrars in occupational medicine are Nominated Medical Advisers (NMA/AMA) for a number of Queensland Mines and will ensure these assessments are completed to the standards that meet the requirements of the legislation.
The term Approved Medical Advisor (AMA) will replace the terminology Nominated Medical Advisor (NMA) during 2019. This is a legislated change.
Employers are required to appoint one or more medical practitioners as their Nominated Medical Adviser (NMA). The NMA's role is to carry out, supervise and report on health assessments and retirement examinations for the employer's coal mine workers. Only the employer's appointed NMA can complete and sign Section 4 of the relevant health assessment form for the employer's coal mine workers. However, Section 3 of the forms can be completed by an examining medical officer (EMO) working under the supervision of the NMA.
If your organization does not have an NMA please complete the form below and we can arrange this appointment on your behalf. If you already have a Nominated Medical Advisor (NMA), please advise:
Examining Medical Advisors
As of March 1 2019, the medical assessment component (Section 3) of the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme Assessment can only be undertaken by approved Examination Medical Officers (EMO). Sonic HealthPlus has EMO’s in all Queensland Clinics, Perth WA and a few locations in NSW.
As of March 1 2019, it is a requirements that clinicians conducting the respiratory function test components of the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme Assessment meet stringent standards. All Queensland based, and several clinics in WA and NSW are approved Spirometry Clinics.
Sonic HealthPlus has an internal Spiro Quality Assurance Program that oversees the credentialing of all Examining Medical Officers (EMO), Nominated Medical Advisers (NMA), Spirometry Operators (SO) and Spirometry (Lung Function) Practice Registrations. This team audits all our participating clinics on a monthly basis to ensure compliance with The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) spirometry procedures, standards and equipment. This program is managed by our Clinical Governance Division and is further testament to our clinical quality in delivering this service.
Frequently Asked Questions
Employers are required to appoint one or more medical practitioners as their nominated medical adviser (NMA). The NMA's role is to carry out, supervise and report on health assessments for the employer's coal mine workers. Only the employer's appointed NMA can complete and sign Section 4 of the relevant health assessment form for the employer's coal mine workers. However, Section 3 of the forms can be completed by an examining medical officer working under the supervision of the NMA.
If your organization does not have an NMA please click here to request Sonic HealthPlus’s assistance in arranging this appointment on your behalf.
Section 1 is completed by the employer. It includes information about the appointed NMA, the employer, the worker's position, similar exposure groups (SEG) and the health risks associated with employment. It is important this is completed in full or delays may be experienced in finalizing Section 4 (the health assessment report).
A new health assessment may be required, however please discuss the specific situation with your NMA.
DNRME has engaged Lungscreen Australia to coordinate an Australian-based dual-read program.
From 1 March 2019, Lungscreen Australia will replace US-based B-reading for all Queensland coal mine worker chest X-rays. All chest X-rays must be sent to Lungscreen Australia from this date.
Amendments to the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017 commencing 1 March 2019 will make 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.
Higher fees will be charged for chest x-rays from 1 March 2019 as the DNRME is no longer funding the dual B process and employers will need to pay for this service from this date.
No, Sonic HealthPlus will obtain these results from DNRME, if DNRME don’t have copies and you have had a spirometry test at a clinic we will contact you to obtain consent to retrieve these records from the practice.
In addition, since the introduction of regulatory changes in 2017 to the CMWHS, respiratory function examinations undertaken as part of periodic health assessments include a comparative assessment with previous respiratory function results when available.
From 1 March 2019, no Interim Section 4 Reports will be issued.
Completed health assessment and retirement examination forms (including the health assessment and retirement examination reports) are the property of the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME). The confidentiality of these forms and reports is protected by law.
DNRME can release copies of completed forms and reports to:
- the worker, or another person with the consent of the worker
- a doctor or hospital without the coal mine worker's consent if the information is needed to treat the worker and the worker is unable to give consent
- to a person, such as a doctor, without the coal mine worker's consent to enable the person to carry out an assessment or review (e.g. comparative assessment of spirometry)
- an appropriately qualified person for approved research (i.e. approved by a Human Research Ethics Committee under the Public Health Act 2005 or similar body) without the coal mine worker’s consent.
Workers can obtain additional copies of their completed health assessment or retirement examination form from the nominated medical adviser (NMA). The NMA may charge for this service.
DNRME can also supply copies of completed forms and reports free of charge. Workers, and those wanting to obtain records where the worker's consent is required, must make a request in writing using the consent application form and include:
- the worker's full name and date of birth
- where to send the medical (name and address)
- the worker's signature and date of the request.
- Photo identification is required.
- Completion of a Consent Application Form is required and can be found at the DNRME website: https://www.dnrme.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/1404086/hsu-medical-release-form.pdf
Email the application to HSU@dnrme.qld.gov.au.
Coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) is one of a range of mine dust lung diseases (MDLD) caused by long-term exposure to mine dust.
Mine dust lung diseases (MDLD) are caused by long-term exposure to high concentrations of respirable dust, generated during mining and quarrying activities. MDLD include a range of occupational lung conditions including:
- coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP)
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Depending on the type of health problem, the nominated medical adviser (NMA) may place some restrictions on a worker to minimise their risk (and risk to others) and prevent further injury or illness. Restrictions are detailed in Section 4 of the approved health assessment form and are explained to the worker by the NMA when the approved form is completed.
Restrictions do not necessarily preclude the worker from working, if they are still able to undertake the job safely. However, it is up to employers to determine whether these restrictions can be accommodated.
Yes, and we encourage your company to engage with the NMA as much as possible. These doctors are highly trained medical professionals often with specialist training in occupational medicine. They are able to provide sound risk management advice and their frequent exposure at the mine site provides confidence to the workforce that they truly understand the risks associated with site and tasks.
Mines rescue operations are physically and psychologically demanding and may involve working conditions that would not normally be considered tolerable.
Toxic atmospheres and poor ventilation encountered in rescue situations require personnel to wear self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for many operations. This, along with heavy physical work such as shifting fallen material and retrieving casualties, significantly increases the risk for heat stress, particularly as heat and humidity underground may already be high.
These conditions require a higher level of personal health and fitness than for normal mining operations. For this reason, the health assessment for mines rescue personnel needs to be more stringent than that for normal mining work (e.g. the Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme).
Health assessment for mines rescue personnel must be carried out:
- every 2 years for persons up to age 40
- every year for persons aged 40 and over.
Please note: If someone completes a medical at the age of 39, they will need to complete another medical when they turn 40, then yearly from then.
The health assessment is in 2 parts:
- Part A is the medical examination conducted on the approved form for the Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme, but applying more stringent criteria.
- Part B is the assessment of physical fitness through the VO2 max step test.
The health assessment should only be conducted and signed off by doctors who are experienced nominated medical advisers under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017.
There will be additional costs for the employer in relation to the ILO Chest X-ray process. As of March 1 2019 the DNRME no longer covers the costs associated with the dual-B reading process. The employer must now cover the costs of the ILO Chest X-ray image AND the ILO Chest X-ray dual-B reading process.
Several factors now limit Sonic HeatlhPlus’ capacity to complete medicals on the same day. However the main influencer is that Interim Section 4’s are no longer permitted. The NMA must wait for the final Lungscreen ILO Chest x-Ray B Read report before being able to complete the Section 4.
We are aware this may cause operational issues for our clients and will work with you where ever we can to expedite processes. However our best advice is plan ahead. Ensure all your workers have registered for Lungscreen IDs ahead of time.
The Monash Review provided recommendations on the Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme to include updated detection quality with the view of disease prevention as opposed to just being cleared for working on-site. This includes updated spirometry equipment, training and testing.
Sonic HealthPlus will not book an appointment for a QLD Coal Board without all of the required Section 1 information.
The Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017 (Qld) in Section 46 places the onus on the employer for monitoring the level of risk an employee is exposed to on site. Section 1 can only be completed by the employer because they are the only person with the knowledge of the site, the risks, and the role and tasks the worker will undertake. Section 1.5 also requires hazard exposures to be listed and this can only be completed accurately by the site expert.
The DNRM requires that employers establish and use their own similar exposure groups(SEGs) based on observation and knowledge of their operations. There is a table of groups and codes in the following tables provided by DNMR. These SEGs are used to facilitate employers reporting to the Mines Inspectorate.
You can find the link to the SEG's here
Your medical information is forwarded from the examining doctor to the NMA. When completed the required documents are uploaded to the department portal. Sonic HP keeps all health records in compliance with the privacy regulations.
No. We are currently seeking advice from the department on this issue for individuals wanting to be mine ready and will advise in due course.
This is possible however it is not a simple process and one that candidates need to manage. For further information contact the Specialised Services Unit on 1300 588 440.
Current validity is five years as per the ILO testing requirements.
This number identifies you as part of a group that have the same general exposure risks. Mine operators must use these categories to report to the department.
Different states have different legislative requirements and you need to meet the legislative requirements for the state you will be working in.
For further information please contact your client partner or the Specialised Services Unit:
P 1300 588 440