Health practice suspended for miners’ bung lung tests

Fraser Barton |

A health practice has been suspended after an audit found miners underwent inadequate lung testing.
A health practice has been suspended after an audit found miners underwent inadequate lung testing.

A health practice in central Queensland has been suspended after an audit found 135 miners had undergone inadequate lung testing.

The state’s mining safety body suspended a Mackay-based practice for six months after its audit revealed 30 per cent of the provider’s spirometry tests were unacceptable and did not meet minimum quality standards.

Spirometry testing assesses lung function by measuring airflow in and out and can identify breathing impairments seen in black lung disease.

The audit found the practice failed to effectively conduct the tests, identify issues in the results and maintain accurate comments, leading to incorrect test interpretation and multiple repeat tests.

Premier Steven Miles has backed the suspension, saying he was “concerned” about the reports.

“It does look to me RSHQ have done the right thing in identifying this problem,” he said.

“No worker should be at risk of injury or death just for going to work and that’s why we have these tough mine safety laws, and why we have this extensive screening for resource-related diseases.”

A total of 135 workers had been impacted by the poor testing, RSHQ said.

“We’re recommending all those affected workers undertake repeat spirometry tests,” RSHQ Director of Health Strategy and Compliance Patrick Jensen said.

“While we always work with medical providers to improve screening quality through education and advice, we don’t shy away from taking appropriate regulatory action where necessary to protect workers’ health and safety.”

Mr Jensen said all coal mine workers impacted by the audit findings, as well as the workers’ employers and doctors, were being contacted.

AAP