QLD Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme

28 February 2019 | News

Effective 1 March 2019, there are important changes to the Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme (formerly Coal Board Medical).

As a consequence of the detection of “black lung” in some Queensland Miners in 2016, a review of the medical assessments process was competed. Legislation changes came into effect in 2018, with further changes in 2019. All changes are aimed to ensure coal employees are adequately screened for Coal Miners pneumoconiosis or “black lung”. Jobfit’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Ilse Stockhoff, has been working closely with the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines to ensure changes are implemented across the Jobfit network

The changes effective 1 March 2019 are:

  • The QLD Coal Mine Workers Medical Assessment will need to be performed with a DNRME registered Examining Medical Officer (Doctor), utilising an accredited Spirometry Practice and with a minimum of two Australian-based NIOSH B-Read Radiologist
  • The Nominated Medical Advisors (NMAs) will no longer be able to sign off the Section 4 fit slip until all aspects of the medical are complete including two reads of the Chest X-Ray.

These changes have been directed by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy (DNRME) and in accordance with the Coal Mining Safety and Health (Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis) Amendment Regulation 2018.

SUMMARY OF CHANGES
  • A new organisation Lung Screen has been appointed by DNRME and will replace the current US-based B Reading system (funded by DNRME) for chest x-ray imaging. Lung Screen will be the only option to complete the B reading requirement of the assessment.
  • The cost of the second B Read will no longer be met by DNRME and will be the responsibility of the employer, and will be included in your total costs for undertaking a medical assessment.
  • The role of the NMA (Nominated Medical Advisor) is being replaced by the role of AMA (Appointed Medical Advisor registered with DNRME). This means that employers will only be able to appoint a doctor who is registered with DNRME as a Supervising Doctor as their AMA, or you will be required to appoint the Jobfit doctors who are registered with DRNME as your AMA to enable us to continue to sign off the Section 4.
  • Interim Section 4 will no longer be an accepted practice. The AMA will be unable to sign off the Section 4 until a minimum of two Radiologist reports are completed with DNRME registered and approved Radiologists.
  • There is a revised Section 1 form which employers will need to adopt, which are required to be completed prior to requesting an assessment.
  • There may be geographic limitations on where this medical assessment can be performed. Previously any doctor could complete the assessment, however going forward only Examining Medical Officers (EMO) registered with DNRME, and AMA’s can complete these medicals. This may limit the options available to employers for workers completing this medical assessment. We are working to increase the number of options available.

Please refer to the DNRME website for further details.

IMPLICATIONS FOR COAL EMPLOYERS (AND CONTRACTORS)

The cost of chest x-rays will significantly increase. Refer to the DNRME website for further information on the new process for reading chest x-rays.

These changes will affect the cost of providing the Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme Medical, and this information has been recently emailed to our customers. For more information, please contact your local Jobfit Customer Relationship Manager.

It is expected there will be delays with this new imaging process. Currently only 5 of the 13 Australian NIOSH B-Read qualified Radiologists are registered with DNRME. There is industry concern that capacity is insufficient to meet agreed timelines, and we are monitoring this very closely and doing all we can to ensure access as quickly as possible.

As NMA’s and AMA’s will no longer be able to issue Interim Section 4 reports until all components are completed including both B reads, this may cause delays until capacity improves. Jobfit is working with our partners to minimise the delay as much as possible.

Lungscreen ID registration

The employer should advise their worker that it is mandatory to register on the Lungscreen portal. The worker will then automatically be issued with a registration number. It is vital the worker registers as soon as possible and registration is only required once.

The worker can complete the online registration here. Ideally the workers Lungscreen ID is provided at the time of booking, but can be provided at the clinic on the day of assessment.

EXCEPT SOME DELAYS WITH RESULTS

Jobfit strongly recommends during the initial transition period to allow a significantly extended period of time before planning a worker to be cleared for site. Please encourage your workers to attend their chest x-ray appointment promptly to provide time for the reports to come back.

We will assist our clients in every way possible to streamline the process during this transition period. Should you have any queries, please contact us.

Find out more about our Coal Mine Workers Health Scheme Medical Assessment.

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