Health truck brings lung checks to regional miners

A prime mover health truck will be on the road by the end of the year, clocking around 50,000 kilometres annually, to bring lung health checks to past and present regional mine and quarry workers.

Assistant State Development Minister and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert today announced that Heart of Australia had been awarded the contract to design, build and operate the mobile health service.

“This mobile screening service will be taking important testing to quarry workers and miners where they live and work to support the early detection and prevention of mine dust lung diseases like black lung and silicosis,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“The 25-metre two-trailer truck is projected to clock about 50,000 kilometres annually, delivering chest X-rays and respiratory checks.

“The exact routes and schedule are being planned to work with existing services, but will likely include the coal fields across the Bowen and Surat Basins, the North West Minerals Province, and the opal and gem fields in the west and south-west of the state.

“The mobile service will complement existing health facilities already available to current and former workers across the state.”

Heart of Australia has several years’ experience providing specialist medical service clinics to rural and remote communities across Queensland via custom-designed trucks.

Founder of Heart of Australia, Dr Rolf Gomes, said the truck would be built and fitted out in Queensland, and operated by a multidisciplinary team.

“When you step on board the new mobile clinic you will find a range of sophisticated equipment similar to what you would find in a respiratory practice in the city,” Mr Gomes said.

“There will be the capacity to conduct full health assessments for current and former mine workers, including chest X-ray screenings, as well as follow-up investigations like high-resolution computed tomography and complex lung function testing where required.

“Depending on what service is needed in each region, staff required to operate the service could include doctors, nurses, radiographers, and of course a truck driver.”

Health assessments for mine rescue personnel and additional health services for the mining community including respiratory and hearing protection fit testing, will also be provided.

The vans are just part of a suite of sweeping health and safety reforms the Palaszczuk Government had made to better protect mine workers. They include:

  • Free respiratory health checks for miners when they start in the industry, when they leave, and at least every five years while they are working
  • Retired or former coal, mineral mine and quarry workers have access to the same free checks
  • Special training for all medical professionals who provide compulsory mine worker health checks and take and read chest X-rays
  • Increased maximum penalties for offences to $4 million and powers for the regulator to issue fines without going to court
  • Supported statewide safety reset sessions for mine and quarry workers to refocus on health and safety
  • Allocated $35 million to deliver reforms to improve the safety and health of our mine workers
  • Establishing an independent resources health and safety authority

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