Black lung is not the only disease: miner warns

A FORMER Queensland miner has warned black lung is not the only respiratory disease underground workers face.

Terence Netherwood worked for 30 years in central and western Queensland mines, including Mount Morgan.

Now 62, Mr Netherwood has developed severe respiratory problems. He said production was prioritised over worker protection.

"When I started working in the mining industry at the age of 21, I was regularly covered in dust from head to toe," he said. "It settled in my hair, on my skin and on my clothes, which was very irritating, but it never crossed my mind that it was threatening my life."

Doctors suspect Mr Netherwood has contracted the dust-borne disease silicosis but he is yet to get a final diagnosis.

Lawyers Slater and Gordon are investigating a possible worker's compensation claim should he be diagnosed with silicosis.

A Department of Natural Resource and Mines spokesman said there were maximum exposure limits to silica dust levels in mines.

"Any mine worker who believes they may have a lung disease is encouraged to see their doctor to be diagnosed and report their case to the Department."

Lawyer Martin Rogalski said the Monash University Coal Mine Worker's Health Scheme review that was released this week was welcome but more could be done to protect miners.

"Black lung disease has returned to haunt the mining industry after 30 years in the dark, highlighting the gradual complacency that has infiltrated the mining industry," he said.

"I commend the government for prioritising the eradication of black lung disease, but it's important to remember that there are a number of other debilitating respiratory diseases that affect workers in the mining industry. The mining industry has an obligation to protect its workers from all respiratory diseases, which can only be achieved with a greater focus on preventative safety measures."

The QRC declined to comment.


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