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Coalminer’s pneumoconiosis is now under the spotlight of the Senate Select Committee on Health.

Also known as black lung disease, coalminer’s pneumoconiosis was thought to have been eradicated but has been diagnosed in six Queensland coalminers in recent months.

The re-emergence of the disease has prompted its inclusion in the Senate Select Committee on Health.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Division’s General President, Tony Maher, has welcomed the federal attention on the disease.

The Senate Select Committee on Health, which was set up in 2014 and has been inquiring into a number of health issues, will now shine a light on coalminer’s pneumoconiosis within the following terms of reference:

  • effect of reduced Commonwealth funding on state- and territory-provided hospital and other health services
    • effect of additional costs on access to healthcare and Medicare’s sustainability
    • effect of reduced Commonwealth funding for health promotion, prevention and early intervention
    • interaction between elements of the health system
    • improvements in the provision of health services
    • better integration and coordination of Medicare services
    • health workforce planning, and
    • any related matters.

The committee is due to table its final report on 20 June.

For more details, visit the Senate Committee

Published on 25 February 2016 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter – available free every fortnight direct to your email. Subscribe online today

Australians are risking an early death by sitting up to 11 hours per day.

Prolonged sitting is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and early death, said the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in a media release.

“It is thought that excessive sitting slows the body’s metabolism – which affects our ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and metabolise fat – and in the long term may cause weaker muscles and have detrimental effects on our bones,” the institute said.

A recent institute-commissioned survey that found that less than 25 per cent of Australians made an effort to reduce long periods of sitting, despite many sitting for at least 7.5 hours a day and 10 per cent sitting for 11 hours a day.

Although 60 per cent of Australians agreed that sitting is bad for their health, most were unlikely to do anything about it, the survey found.

Many reported they didn’t think about standing up, “while one in seven said they would feel self-conscious in front of their colleagues”, the survey said.

“Nor were people inclined to seek opportunities to stand in their workplace. Less than 40 per cent wanted greater support from their employer to promote standing during their work day.”

“Australians have really got to start making changes, even small, gradual changes to their work day. Our love affair with the chair has got to stop,” said Professor David Dunstan, head of Physical Activity Research at Baker IDI, in a media release.

“The changes don’t have to be costly,” he suggested. “Stand while you talk on the phone, go for a walking meeting, use smart phone prompts to remind you to stand.”

For more details, visit the institute

Published on 18 June 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.

The rate of workers compensation claims for musculoskeletal and some other occupational diseases have plunged significantly in the past decade.

These latest figures are from the ‘Occupational Disease Indicators’ report released by Safe Work Australia this week.

The report says the rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders caused by body stressing declined by 31 per cent between 2000–01 and 2010–11.

Infectious and parasitic claims dived 53 per cent from 2003–04 to 2010–11.

Cardiovascular diseases claims dropped 51 per cent from 2002–03 to 2010–11.

Respiratory diseases claims reduced 49 per cent between 2000–01 and 2010–11.

Contact dermatitis claims decreased 48 per cent between 2000–01 and 2010–11.

While the rate of workers compensation claims for mental disorders decreased from 2002–03 until 2008–09, it then began increasing, the report added.

For more details, visit the occupational diseases report.

Published on 17 July 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Tobacco kills half its users, says the World Health Organization in the lead-up to World No Tobacco Day on 31 May.

Six million people die from tobacco-related disease each year. “More than five million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke,” WHO says in a media statement.

“Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco, accounting for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.”

Smoking tobacco and other products is banned in most Australian workplaces.

Graphical images on cigarette packets have also been introduced, among other initiatives such as taxes, to persuade Australians not to smoke.

Taxes are viewed as playing a significant role in reducing tobacco use. “Taxes are the most cost-effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially among young people and poor people,” WHO says.

“A tax increase that increases tobacco prices by 10 per cent decreases tobacco consumption by about four per cent in high-income countries and by up to eight per cent in low- and middle-income countries.”

Total tobacco taxes in Australia accounted for more than 63 per cent of the final price of a packet of cigarettes in 2012.

New laws will increase the excise and excise-equivalent customs duty on tobacco over four staged increases of 12.5 per cent each over the next two years.

For more detail, visit World No Tobacco Day.

Published on 22 May 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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