The NSW Resources Regulator has today confirmed a case of a former NSW worker with mixed dust coal workers pneumoconiosis.
Ms Lucy Flemming, Managing Director/CEO of Coal Services, reaffirmed that the first and foremost priority for Coal Services is providing the worker with the appropriate care and support and ensuring their privacy is respected and maintained.
Ms Flemming said ‘this confirmed case highlights that vigilance must remain the highest priority for our industry, particularly in the area of prevention. Complacency is the enemy of occupational disease. Prevention is key, and we all must play a role in ensuring that health and safety remains the primary focus of how we define our industry’s success’.
Coal Services has always maintained it was likely that some cases would emerge among those who had worked in the industry before dust mitigation and health surveillance was enforced. However, Coal Services remains confident that there are no systemic issues with its current model.
Ms Flemming again stressed the importance of regular health surveillance for all current and former NSW mine workers.
‘We encourage any worker, current or retired, who has concerns about their health to contact their nearest Coal Services office. Even after leaving the industry, workers are entitled to attend health assessments at CS Health.’
Ms Flemming said Coal Services was confident in the strength and rigour of the collaborative model in NSW, built on the pillars of prevention, detection, enforcement and education. ‘It is critical that our industry maintains its focus on all of the regulations, guidelines and systems that are in place to safeguard the health and safety of our workers. The best way to deal with occupational disease is to eliminate and mitigate the risks in the first place, with prevention and education being the key.
‘We remain committed to our responsibilities and as always our priority is to deliver on our promise to protect the NSW coal industry and its workers.
‘In consultation with our key stakeholders, including our shareholders the NSW Minerals Council and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), we will continue to build on the rigour of our health surveillance approach, deliver preventative education programs, and support research aimed at providing evidence-based improvements to our Scheme.’
Stephen Galilee, CEO of the NSW Minerals Council supported this position and said ‘our members take their role as key stakeholders in the collaborative model very seriously. We fully endorse all efforts to continuously strengthen and improve health and safety protections for our industry’.
General President of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Tony Maher, agreed. ‘We should be doing everything in our power to ensure that the primary focus is to continue to look at ways that ensure our workers health and safety is paramount.’