The Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme (formerly Coal Board Medical) protects the health and safety of Queensland coal mine workers by ensuring they undergo periodic health assessments.
The scheme is regulated by the Queensland Government, Department of Natural Resources and Mines, and applies only to Queensland coal mines.
Under the scheme, employers must ensure that health assessments are carried out on each person they employ, or are intending to employ, as a coal mine worker. The scheme does not apply to workers employed for low-risk tasks.
Jobfit conducts Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme (Coal Board Medical) assessments all over Australia.
Employers are required to adhere to a number of measures around medical assessments for Queensland coal mine workers under new laws taking effect from 1 January 2017.
When and how often must workers be assessed?
Under the Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme, health assessments are required:
- before a person starts work as a coal mine worker
- if the NMA decides it is necessary after receiving a notice under section 49(3) of the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001.
- periodically, as decided by the employer's nominated medical adviser, but at least once every 5 years
If workers change employers, a new medical may be required.
How the health assessment works
The health assessment is overseen and reviewed by a Jobfit nominated medical adviser (NMA) using the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) approved health assessment form.
All assessments booked through Jobfit are completed and Section 4 signed by a Jobfit NMA.
This form has four sections:
- Section 1 is completed by the employer. It includes information about the NMA, the employer, the worker's position, similar exposure groups, and the health risks associated with employment. This section is required to be completed by the employer in full. No medical assessment can be done if Section 1 is not completed in full by the employer. The employer must also complete two new information boxes in Section 1:
- The date of the coal mine worker's last respiratory function examination, and
- The date of the coal mine worker's last chest x-ray examination.
Employers can obtain this information from Section 4 of previous health assessment form reports or by contacting the Department of Natural Resources and Mines Health Surveillance Unit on (07) 3818 4520 or email.
- Section 2 is completed by the worker. It lists personal and health history information. Photo ID must be brought to the assessment.
- Section 3 is completed by an examining medical officer and details clinical findings.
- Section 4 is completed and signed by the NMA and details restrictions and worker identification. It is only the coal board medical section 4 that is forwarded to the employer.
Chest x-ray and respiratory function requirements
- If the worker is deemed at risk of exposure to coal dust and they are working underground, they will need a chest x-ray and respiratory function test to be repeated periodically as determined by their exposure risk.
- Coal mine workers who currently work above ground but who have previously worked underground must now have a respiratory function and chest x-ray examination at least once every 5 years. An "underground worker" includes any coal mine worker who has worked one or more shifts underground. Employers should record this in the new section 1.3 Requirement for Chest X-ray Examination.
- Chest x-ray examination is required to be done according to the ILO classification, with a 2 reader process in place and send to Jobfit in a digital format (CD or DVD). This means your chest x-ray will be sent off to be reviewed by an independent radiologist and this process may cause some delays in issuing a final Section 4 certificate.
The worker may also be required by an employer to undergo drug and alcohol testing at the time of the assessment, but this is not a mandatory requirement of the Coal Mine Worker’s Health Scheme.
Health assessment report
With the current 2 reader process for chest x-rays, an interim Section 4 will be provided to the relevant parties with a review date within one month of the initial assessment date.
When the health assessment is complete, Jobfit sends:
- the completed health assessment form to DNRM
- a copy of Section 4 of the completed health assessment form to the worker
- Section 4 of the completed health assessment form to the employer
If the employer requires an explanation of a Section 4 report about a worker from the NMA, the employer must obtain the agreement of the worker and ensure that the worker is present.
For candidates without an employer (self-employed) and paying for their own medical, an interim report will be provided that is valid for 6 months. Once employment is secured, Section 1 should be completed and forwarded to Jobfit so that Section 4 (interim or final) can be provided.
Record keeping and reporting requirements
Jobfit keeps the following records:
- a copy of the health assessment data and a copy of the completed form for each assessment that they have conducted
- if the assessment (up to Section 3) has been undertaken by another doctor, copies of the completed form and the NMA's Section 4 report.
Jobfit sends the following records to DNRM:
- the digital copy of the x-ray (CD or DVD) and x-ray report according to ILO classification, and
- a copy of the completed health assessment form and data on which it was based.
Confidentiality of information
Jobfit cannot disclose the contents of a worker's records to anyone but the worker unless the worker has given written consent. The DNRN must disclose the contents of a worker's records to the worker upon receipt of a written request.
What happens if workers have health issues or are unfit?
Depending on the type of health problem, our NMA may place some restrictions on a worker to minimise their risk (and risk to others) and prevent further injury or illness. Restrictions are detailed in Section 4 of the approved form and are explained to the worker by our NMA when the approved form is completed.
Restrictions do not necessarily preclude the worker from working, if they are still able to undertake the job safely. However, it is up to employers to determine whether these restrictions can be accommodated.
Obtaining copies of medical reports
Completed health assessment forms are the property of the DNRM. The confidentiality of reports is protected by law; reports can only be released to the worker, or a representative appointed in writing by the worker.
Workers can obtain a copy of their completed health assessment form from Jobfit. The DNRM can also supply copies of reports following a request in writing.
For more information about the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme visit the Queensland Government website.
To book a Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme health assessment (formerly Coal Board Medical), please contact us.