Queensland Parliament passes Act reforming black lung compensation, electrical safety licensing issues and post-incident support
WHO SHOULD READ THIS
- Electrical and mining industry stakeholders (especially coal); coal port, coal transport and coal fired power station stakeholders.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Queensland Parliament passed legislative reforms to improve access to compensation for ‘black lung’ and other dust lung disease sufferers; to introduce a consultative committee about support for persons affected by work-related serious injuries/illnesses and fatalities; and to allow safety information to be considered as part of electrical work licensing.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
- Mining industry stakeholders need to understand the changes to compensation and how it may affect premiums. Electrical work licence holders need to consider how a serious work health and safety incident might affect their ability to continue holding a licence and, given this prospect, ensure there are systems in place to meet statutory requirements.
Changes under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation (Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (Qld) (Act) are now in force.
Following on from our previous article published on 28 June 2017, the Act commenced on 31 August 2017, following recommendations made by the Finance and Administration Committee.
Relevantly, in response to the Committee’s recommendations, the Minister of Employment and Industrial Relations (Minister):
- advised that the Office of Industrial Relations was working with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines and the workers’ compensation insurers to ensure that an Australian B reader program was established and implemented
- clarified the application of the ‘once and for all rule’ to sufferers who have received compensation under common law in circumstances where their disease then progresses, or they develop a new disease. In this regard, the Act specifically allows for the reopening of a statutory claim for pneumoconiosis to provide a worker with further statutory compensation where the disease develops or they develop a new disease
- confirmed that in terms of who bears responsibility for medical examination costs for miners who demonstrate six months of exposure to coal dust at more than one worksite in Queensland, the apportionment of workers’ compensation costs between different employers was being managed administratively. However, the Minister advised that a protocol will be developed to provide a framework for apportionment of costs between self insurers and WorkCover Queensland
- introduced an amendment, that now appears in the Act, to clarify that it is the responsibility of the insurer to cover the reasonable travel costs incurred by a coal worker to attend a medical examination, and
- clarified that all new claims made after the commencement of the Act will be entitled to the new pneumoconiosis lump sum, the statutory lump sum compensation, and the possibility to top-up their claim if the disease progresses in future. Further, for all claims accepted prior to the commencement of the Act, a worker will be entitled to the new pneumoconiosis lump sum payment as long as they have not yet had their permanent impairment assessed and for their claim to be topped up in future if the disease progresses.
Focus covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. Focus is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.
This publication covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. It is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.