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Created Wed 15/03/2017, Last Updated Wed 15/03/2017

Black Lung specialist travels from USA to meet with Queensland victims

Internationally renowned Black Lung specialist Professor Robert Cohen, from the US, met in Brisbane today with two of the Queensland victims he helped diagnose, Percy Verrall and Steve Mellor. Both are representatives of the Black Lung Victims Group and were to be joined by Keith Stoddart who unfortunately has been hospitalised in Bundaberg for treatment on his disease.

In a joint media conference with CFMEU Mining and Energy District President Stephen Smyth they called for urgent action to lower permissible dust levels in Queensland mines with Professor Cohen pointing out that they were twice the level allowed in US coal mines today.

Percy Verrall spoke of his chronic and crippling disease. “We have been let down by successive governments with poor regulations and by the mining companies who have failed to enforce even these poor standards at their mines. We are victims of a disease they claimed had been eradicated and something needs to be done to make sure workers are properly protected so they won’t have this terrible condition inflicted on them”.

Steve Mellor spoke of his time as a contractor and the shoddy treatment handed out to them as vulnerable insecure workers. “There was a failure to properly monitor our health and even then another failure to properly assess it. If governments and mining companies had lived up to their responsibilities we would not be sitting here today as victims of Black Lung”.

Stephen Smyth expressed the CFMEU’s appreciation of the outstanding work Professor Cohen had done for the victims. “We have a lot to learn from the US coal miners experience, including training medical specialists to the proper international standards to diagnose Black Lung, particularly in the early stages. We are delighted Dr Cohen is here in Queensland to share his knowledge and expertise in how we should go about eradicating Black Lung”.

Dr Bob
Steve Mellor, Dr Bob Cohen, Percy Verrall, Steve Smyth