Professor Malcolm Sim
Professor Malcolm Sim Contributed

Rebuilding confidence after black lung 'takes time'

DISTRAUGHT coal workers and their families have contacted the author of a report into black lung, having lost trust in the medical scheme meant to protect them.

Monash University professor Malcolm Sim's report into the re-emergence of black lung in Queensland said there had been "systemic failings" in the coal worker's health scheme.

Testifying before the Queensland Parliamentary inquiry into black lung, Prof Sim said he had received calls from distressed workers.

"I have had calls and emails from coal mine workers and their families and this demonstrated to me the concern and loss of confidence in the medical system," he said.

Prof Sim told the inquiry it was a "medium to long-term program" to restore trust in the system.

"Confidence takes a long time to build up and is very easy to lose," he said.

"Look it's not easy and I think it's going to take some time."

Prof Sim told the hearing a lack of thoracic specialists in mining towns such as Mackay and Rockhampton was a "major problem".

"I think this is something a group like the Thoracic Society needs to be more aware of," he said.

Prof Sim said a lack of specialists was not only an issue for assessing potential black lung but a wider concern for medical treatment across regional areas.

He said retired coal workers were also at risk of developing black lung because of the disease's long gestation period.

In response to questions from Whitsunday LNP MP Jason Costigan , Prof Sim said coal workers at above-ground mines and in ports may also be at risk.

He said although his review did not look at those workers, anyone potentially exposed to coal dust could be at risk.


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