QLD Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme

Assisting in the screening and detection of pneumoconiosis or “black lung” in Queensland Coal Miners.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I am told I need to appoint an Approved Medical Adviser how do I do this?

Employers are required to appoint one or more medical practitioners as their appointed medical adviser (AMA). The AMA's role is to carry out, supervise and report on health assessments for the employer's coal mine workers. Only the employer's appointed AMA 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 AMA.

If your organization does not have an AMA please request Sonic HealthPlus’s assistance in arranging this appointment on your behalf.

I am an employer, what sections of the health assessment must I complete?

Section 1 is completed by the employer. It includes information about the AMA, 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).

If a worker changes employers do they need health assessment?

A new health assessment may be required, however please discuss the specific situation with your AMA.

Why can’t my candidates/workers go to an x-ray clinic of their choice?

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.

Do I have to get copies of previous lung function tests?

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.

Where can I get copies of health assessments?

Completed health assessment and retirement examination forms (including the health assessment and retirement examination reports) are the property of the Resources Safety & Health Queensland (RSHQ). 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.
How do I request copies of my health assessment?

Workers can obtain additional copies of their completed health assessment or retirement examination form from the appointed medical adviser (AMA). The AMA 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:

Email the application to HSU@dnrme.qld.gov.au.

What is coal workers’ pneumoconiosis?

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)
  • silicosis
  • asbestosis.
I am told I have work restrictions what does this mean?

Depending on the type of health problem, the appointed medical adviser (AMA) 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 AMA 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.

Can we (the employer) request the AMA visit the mine site?

Yes, and we encourage your company to engage with the AMA 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.

What is a Queensland Mine Rescue Medical?

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).

When and how often must workers be assessed?

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.

How the health assessment works?

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 an Approved Medical Advisers under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017.

Will these changes impact on the cost of a medical?

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.

Why can we no longer get a medical completed on the same day?

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 AMA 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 form changed 12 months ago, why has it changed again?

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.

Can you complete a medical without all of the information?

Sonic HealthPlus will not book an appointment for a QLD Coal Board without all of the required Section 1 information.

Why does the employer need to complete Section One?

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

There is a new consent form – where is my medical information going?

Your medical information is forwarded from the examining doctor to the AMA. When completed the required documents are uploaded to the department portal. Sonic HP keeps all health records in compliance with the privacy regulations.

Can I complete a QLD Coal Mine Worker's Medical without having a confirmed job at a mine?

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.

Can I use a QLD Coal Mine Worker's Medical with a different employer/Section 4?

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.

How long does a QLD Coal Mine Worker's Medical last for?

Current validity is five years as per the ILO testing requirements.

What is the SEG number?

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.

Can I use my QLD Coal Mine Worker's Medical to work in NSW?

Different states have different legislative requirements and you need to meet the legislative requirements for the state you will be working in.

Change of Employer

A Coal Worker changing employer must undergo a CMWHS medical assessment relevant to their new employer and role risk profile. Although a CMHWS medical assessment is valid for a period of up to 5 years, SHP will only consider a Change of Employer AMA Review where the previous assessment was completed after 27/4/18.

The AMA will require the following to consider this:

  1. Copy of full past results
  2. New Section 1 from prospective employer

Can I request my results from the DNRME?
Simply use the HSU Request form to request a full copy of your results. This is provided free of charge. Provide these with your booking request.

How long will it take to get my new Section 4?
After the AMA has received the full past results they will either review and issue a new Section 4, or contact you for further information. This will occur within 10 business days of the full results being available. The AMA reserves the right to request additional information or assessments in the process of making a final decision. Turnaround timeframes will not apply in these situations. You will be requires to pay for any additional assessments requested.

Why is this only available for medicals done post April 2018?
This date reflects the date after which it is the opinion of SHP that the results available from the previous medical will be of sufficient quality to allow preparation of the new Section 4, without repeating the full medical assessments. In April 2018 the CMWHS paperwork was expanded to include additional critical information and standards for the delivery of Spirometry for Coal Mine Workers (TSANZ) was introduced.

Further Information

For further information please contact your client partner or the Specialised Services Unit:

1300 588 440 ssu@sonichealthplus.com.au sonichealthplus.com.au

Enquire about QLD Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme

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