Moves address emerging coal disease

Posted December 16, 2015

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(A coal miner using spirometry to test his lung function)

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) has been moved to issue a statement on clinical radiologists who are available to report on X-rays to screen Australian miners for industrial lung diseases.

This follows the re-emergence of a small number of cases of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung disease, which has not been seen in Australia for the last 20 years.

“For screening purposes, mining companies and their employees should ensure that chest X-rays are reported by a clinical radiologist who is experienced in detecting CWP,”said Dr Gregory Slater, clinical radiologist, President-Elect of RANZCR and Dean of the Faculty of Clinical Radiology.

“Clinical radiologists in Australia have been participating in clinically appropriate and effective disease screening programs for many years,” Dr Slater said. “There is ample local expertise amongst our members to meet the current demand for coal mine workers screening X-rays.” 
The college has also qualified its standards against those in the United States.
‘B-Reader’ certification is only issued by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in the United States and is not applicable to clinical radiologists in Australia.
In addition to training in the pathology and radiology of pneumoconiosis that is received by all radiology trainees in Australia, some of our radiologists have developed or are willing to develop further experience and skill in the reporting of screening chest X-rays according to the ILO Classification, Dr Slater said.
‘These radiologists are able to provide reports that are equivalent to reports provided by Level “B” readers overseas’, he said.
RANZCR is compiling a register of clinical radiologists who can report to the ILO classification of radiographs of pneumoconiosis. It is anticipated that the register will shortly be made available to key stakeholders, including the employers of coal mine workers.


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