Mining companies to inherit decision on workers' health

MINING companies are forcing jobseekers to undergo expensive and often ineffective health checks - and the state government has had enough.

Queensland's Department of Mines requires workers new to the industry to undergo a "baseline" study, so it can track any industry issues with hearing, breathing, fitness, muscle or bone problems.

But companies have been sending would-be workers to general practitioners for these checks, even if the medicos have little or no knowledge of what is involved in the industry.

This has contributed to an enormous spike in paperwork for the state, which saw these assessments double from 24,529 in 2009 to more than 47,000 in 2012.

These candidates were also paying up to $700 for a comprehensive check recorded by the government whether or not they were given the job.

As part of a suite of changes to Queensland's safety legislation, the state will demand these checks be done by the time a worker has been in the industry for three months.

These are to be given by a properly qualified occupational health physician, not a GP, and will be at the company's cost.

Mine management will be in charge of deciding whether a worker is fit for work, based on the views of their medical personnel, with any appeal by workers going straight to Fair Work Australia instead of being mediated by the government.

This will also keep the state from having to pay for extra medical tests when trying to settle disputes.

The Queensland Resources Council declined to discuss specific changes but supported the need for reform.

Those interested have until November 11 to make a contribution at dnrm.qld.gov.au.



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