A confidential hotline for current and former mine and quarry workers in Queensland became available from Monday, 2 March 2020. The hotline — 1300 445 715 — strives to make access to advice and services simpler for workers and their families. The Mine Dust Health Support Service provides expert advice and support on navigating the system — from pre-health screening to accessing post workers compensation claim support services.
“Easy access to accurate workplace health information and free services is essential for concerned and affected workers and their families. My constituents, both past or current mine workers, tell me it can be a challenge to navigate various public and private sector organisations to find information and services,” Julieanne Gilbert, Assistant State Development Minister and Member for Mackay, said. Alongside mine and quarry workers and their families, the hotline is also open for doctors seeking information about the screening and diagnosis process.
The hotline is a collaborative engagement between the state’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Office of Industrial Relations and WorkCover Queensland. “Mine dust disease impacts all aspects of a worker’s life and can cause significant personal and financial stress,” Barry O’Rourke, Member for Rockhampton, said. “That’s why the government introduced laws in 2017 that deliver stronger workers compensation protections for Queenslanders suffering from black lung or other forms of dust lung disease. The Palaszczuk government has ensured simpler, faster workers comp claims and extra lump sum payments for people with black lung or silicosis.”
The hotline is another measure in the range of reforms the Palaszczuk government has introduced to protect mine workers. The Palaszczuk government’s reforms provide free respiratory health checks to Queensland coal workers when they start in the industry, when they leave, and every five years while they are working. The reforms also provide access to the same free checks to retired or former coal, mineral mine and quarry workers, and ensure that all medical workers providing the health checks are specially trained, with the free X-rays taken in specially registered X-ray imaging clinics.
The Palaszczuk government has also increased maximum penalties for offences to $4 million, and enabled the Regulator to issue fines without going to court. Additionally, it has supported state-wide safety reset sections for mine and quarry workers to refocus on health and safety, and allocated $35 million to deliver more reforms in future. “With one call to the Mine Dust Health Support Service, callers will be able to get information about free mine worker health services, including compulsory free chest X-rays and lung function tests, and ready access to advice about workers compensation,” Brittany Lauga, Member for Keppel and Assistant Education Minister, said. “I encourage former and current mine workers to pick up a phone and dial 1300 445 715.”
Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Ded Pixto