Katherine du Preez is Queensland's first female mines health and safety commissioner.
Katherine du Preez is Queensland's first female mines health and safety commissioner.

More work needed to solve black lung: commissioner

"SIGNIFICANT progress" has been made to safeguard Queensland miners against black lung but more work is still needed, Queensland's chief mining safety officer has admitted.

Queensland Mines Safety and Health Commissioner Kate du Preez believes the industry, workers and government are on track to return black lung to the history books but need to keep working together on the issue.

Since November 2015 there have been 23 confirmed cases of black lung, also known as coal workers pneumoconiosis, in Queensland. Before that there had been no confirmed cases in nearly 30 years.

Speaking at the Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference at the Gold Coast on Monday, Ms du Preez said the disease had been a major focus in her first year in the role.

"Although we've still got a long way to go, we've made some significant process regarding coal workers pneumoconiosis," she said.

"We've begun the implementation of the Monash Review recommendations as well as the Senate's inquiry.

"The entire industry has been working closely together to handle this."

As commissioner, Ms du Preez has overseen the response to the re-identification of black lung, faced a committee of politicians investigating the disease at the same time as attempting to tackle drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues in the industry.

"While everyone has been committed to handling coal workers pneumoconiosis, it's not the only thing we are dealing with," she said.

"We've also taken action on silica dust. On the safety side we've been working on drug and alcohol issues as well as fatigue and mental health."

Ms du Preez said everyone involved in mining needed to work to ensure mines remained safe places to work.

"Conferences like this are vital, and so is making sure they are attended by representatives of all levels of the industry- management, unions, workers and governments," she said.

- NewsRegional