Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register Legislation Granted Royal Assent in Queensland, Australia

Last year, we reported (here) that legislators in Queensland, Australia, were attempting to pass an Act of Parliament, which would ‘enable health authorities to monitor emerging occupational lung diseases such as CWP [coal workers’ pneumoconiosis] and silicosis’.

The Health and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 proposed the introduction of a Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register, amending the Public Health Act 2005, which would record Queensland Health cases of patients diagnosed with dust-related lung diseases.

On 3 April 2019, the Bill was granted Royal Assent (signed by the Governor on behalf of the Queen[i]).[ii]

The creation of a Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register is effective under s.22 of the Health and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019.

Concurrently, Safe Work Australia has opened a month-long consultation designed to evaluate the existing document of Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants and seek comments on workplace exposure standards (WES) for respirable crystalline silica (RCS) and respirable coal dust (RCD).[iii]

Silicosis and coal workers coal worker’s pneumoconiosis in Great Britain, 2018 (here), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publication, concludes that the current estimate of 800 new silica-related lung disease cases diagnosed each year in Great Britain is likely to be a ‘substantial underestimate’.  

At a House of Commons debate on CWP (or ‘Black Lung Disease’) in 2018, Ben Bradley MP expressed his desire to see the ‘Department for Work and Pensions … work with the Department of Health and Social Care to review the diagnostic tools that are used to assess miners for signs for pneumoconiosis’.

The UK Government may now look to devise and implement a similar scheme, using the enforceable Australian State Law as a template.

 

[i] ‘The Legislative Process - The Making of a Law’ (March 2018 Queensland Parliament) <https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/explore/education/factsheets/Factsheet_3.7_MakingOfALaw.pdf> accessed 11 April 2019.

[ii] ‘GPs must now report lung diseases in Qld’ (3 April 2019 Daily Mail) <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/aap/article-6883527/GPs-report-lung-diseases-Qld.html> accessed 8 April 2019.

[iii] ‘Workplace exposure standards open for public comment until 30 April’ (3 April 2019 Safe Work Australia) <https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/media-centre/news/workplace-exposure-standards-open-public-comment-until-30-april> accessed 11 April 2019.