Since it was introduced in February 2011, Order 41 has provided a clear set of guidelines for industry in regard to the completion of health assessments, and is widely recognised as a key part of the NSW coal mining health and safety scheme.
However; the re-identification of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) led to a review of the Order. The focus of the review was to strengthen the Order to ensure that it is consistent with other legislation and that it continues to provide ongoing protection for the health of NSW coal workers.
The Coal Services Board has approved changes to health monitoring requirements for NSW coal mine workers. The new order under the NSW Coal Industry Act 2001 will come into effect on 1 July 2018. It replaces Order 41 and will be known as Order 43.
“Our goal is to ensure that the health surveillance program in NSW continues to deliver the best possible outcomes for coal workers,” explained Mark O’Neill, CS Health General Manager. “The new Order 43 builds on components of Order 41 and formalises existing processes that have been implemented over time.”
Under Order 43, the frequency of chest x-rays has increased to every three years for underground and open cut workers involved in the production, processing and maintenance of coal; and every six years for other workers. Respiratory FIT-testing also forms part of the Order 43 medical assessments as a proactive step in protecting workers’ health by providing ongoing education in the use of personal protective equipment.
Workers who are retiring or otherwise ceasing work in the industry will also be required to undergo an exit medical.
Mr O’Neill stated that as part of the more robust health surveillance scheme, there are also important changes relating to who is able to perform Order 43 medicals and the launch of a specialised training program for medical practitioners.
‘Our extensive review process included a comparison of our health surveillance scheme against the findings of the Senate Select Committee Inquiry and the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry. We didn’t fall short. But one of the recommendations was that medical practitioners performing health surveillance medicals be formally trained in the nature and conditions of the mining environment. We have developed the NSW Coal Industry Medical Induction Program as a way to provide an understanding of the health risks faced by our workforce and to better monitor their health for early detection of occupational disease.’
Full details of Order 43 are being distributed to employers and medical practitioners and will soon be available on the Coal Services website. Please contact Kristy Prior, Partnership and Innovation Manager on [email protected]