What is Coal Mine Workers’ Pneumoconiosis
Pneumoconiosis is a series of diseases caused by the inhalation of organic or inorganic dusts or chemical irritants. Typically the disease occurs from exposure over a prolonged period of time. The type and severity of the disease depends on the composition of the dust; small quantities of some substances, notably silica and asbestos, produce grave reaction, while milder irritants produce symptoms of lung disease only with massive exposure.
Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP) is a chronic occupational lung disease caused by long-term inhalation of coal dust. CWP causes inflammation of the alveoli. Alveoli are tiny sacs within our lungs that allow oxygen and carbon dioxide to move between the lungs and bloodstream. Inflammation of the alveoli will eventually result in irreversible damage to the lungs. CWP ranges in severity from simple to advanced; the most severe form is progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). Advanced CWP is debilitating and often fatal.
Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis is commonly known as ‘black lung‘.
Coal mine workers are required to undergo a Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme medical assessment prior to commencing employment at a coal mine. Furthermore coal mine workers are also required to undergo a coal mine workers health scheme medical assessment at least once every 5 years during their employment.
Employers can appoint one or more registered medical practitioners as their nominated medical advisor (NMA) to conduct these medical assessments performed under the scheme.
The medical assessment includes a wide range of tests, including lung function tests (spirometry) and, where there is a risk of coal dust exposure, a chest X-ray. The goal is to ensure that miners get an early diagnosis for any lung disease, including CWP.
Specialist Radiology Assessments: Chest X-Ray’s
Specialist radiologists in Queensland are qualified to competently read chest X-rays to the required international standards for determining pneumoconiosis (International Labour Organisation Standard International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses).
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) recommends that for screening purposes, mining companies and their employees ensure that chest X-rays are reported by a clinical radiologist who is experienced in detecting coal workers’ pneumoconiosis. RANZCR has compiled a register of clinical radiologists who are available, competent and commit to using the ILO classification.
KINNECT ensures all chest x-rays performed for Coal Mine Workers are reviewed and reported on by a clinical radiologist who is experienced in detecting coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and as such meet ILO Standard.