The role of the health surveillance program in the Queensland coal mining industry

Ham, Bruce William (2000) The role of the health surveillance program in the Queensland coal mining industry. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

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Abstract

The Queensland Coal Industry Employees Health Scheme was implemented in 1993 to provide health surveillance for all Queensland coal industry workers. Tt1e government, mining employers and mining unions agreed that the scheme should operate for seven years. At the expiry of the scheme, an assessment of the contribution of health surveillance to meet coal industry needs would be an essential part of determining a future health surveillance program. This research project has analysed the data made available between 1993 and 1998. All current coal industry employees have had at least one health assessment. The project examined how the centralised nature of the Health Scheme benefits industry by identi~)jng key health issues and exploring their dimensions on a scale not possible by corporate based health surveillance programs. There is a body of evidence that indicates that health awareness - on the scale of the individual, the work group and the industry is not a part of the mining industry culture. There is also growing evidence that there is a need for this culture to change and that some change is in progress. One element of this changing culture is a growth in the interest by the individual and the community in information on health status and benchmarks that are reasonably attainable. This interest opens the way for health education which contains personal, community and occupational elements. An important element of such education is the data on mine site health status. This project examined the role of health surveillance in the coal mining industry as a tool for generating the necessary information to promote an interest in health awareness. The Health Scheme Database provides the material for the bulk of the analysis of this project. After a preliminary scan of the data set, more detailed analysis was undertaken on key health and related safety issues that include respiratory disorders, hearing loss and high blood pressure. The data set facilitates control for confounding factors such as age and smoking status. Mines can be benchmarked to identify those mines with effective health management and those with particular challenges.

While the study has confirmed the very low prevalence of restrictive airway disease such as pneu"moconiosis, it has demonstrated a need to examine in detail the emergence of obstructive airway disease such as bronchitis and emphysema which may be a consequence of the increasing use of high dust longwall technology. The power of the Health Database's electronic data management is demonstrated by linking the health data to other data sets such as injury data that is collected by the Department of l\1mes and Energy. The analysis examines serious strain -sprain injuries and has identified a marked difference between the underground and open cut sectors of the industry. The analysis also considers productivity and OHS data to examine the extent to which there is correlation between any pairs ofJpese and previously analysed health parameters. This project has demonstrated that the current structure of the Coal Industry Employees Health Scheme has largely delivered to mines and effective health screening process. At the same time, the centralised nature of data collection and analysis has provided to the mines, the unions and the government substantial statistical cross-sectional data upon which strategies to more effectively manage health and relates safety issues can be based.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 36768
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Additional Information: Presented to the School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology.
Keywords: Coal miners Health and hygiene Queensland, Coal mines and mining Safety measures, Industrial hygiene, Industrial safety, thesis, masters
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Bruce William Ham
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2010 13:06
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2016 03:38

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