Three respiratory physicians visited Centennial Coal’s Mandalong mine in June to learn more about the underground mining environment and related exposure risks. CS Health’s Senior Medical Officer Dr David Meredith and Partnership and Innovation Manager Kristy Prior were also on hand to provide insight into NSW’s preventative measures and detection strategies.
Among the group was Associate Professor Deborah Yates who co-authored the recent report in the Medical Journal of Australia, ‘Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis: an Australian perspective’. The report reinforced the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand’s recommendations to the Senate Inquiry that included national standards for dust exposure limits, health screening and mandatory reporting.
The visit demonstrated NSW’s hands-on approach to dust control from dust mitigation systems and protective measures in place at mines, to our prescriptive processes around health screening and chest x-rays.
‘The experience was very positive,’ Dr David Meredith said.
‘The doctors were interested in the respiratory assessments we do on workers as they enter the industry as well as in the periodic health assessments.’
One of the recommendations in the Medical Journal of Australia report was the development of appropriate training materials to assist general practitioners in identifying pneumoconiosis.
‘They were impressed with our clearly defined systems and processes, particularly around chest x-rays referrals and that nearly all CS Health doctors are occupational physicians or are in-training, not just GPs. Despite being a small pool of doctors we see close to 100 per cent of all periodic health surveillance medicals in NSW and confer regularly on health issues arising in the industry.’
The group also visited the Newcastle Mines Rescue station where they saw the potential for using the training facilities to help educate respiratory physicians about dust and mining.
Coal Services has been invited to attend and contribute to talks at the Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine conference and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand in August.