A world expert in black lung disease is claiming hundreds, perhaps even thousands of Queensland miners and tradies working on Brisbane's underground road network could be suffering with the potentially-deadly condition because they haven't been properly tested.
American Dr Robert Cohen made the shocking admission during a state parliamentary inquiry into coal workers' pneumoconiosis, predicting many undiagnosed cases.
20 workers have been diagnosed with black lung in the past two years. Once thought to have been eradicated in Australia, the Coal Miners' Union says it was just "covered up".
"It's now coming to the front of everyone's minds in the industry. Because of the first couple of cases in 2015 and the fact we've engaged the US global experts to assist us, the truth is coming out and the cover ups are about to be exposed," President Steven Smyth told Channel Nine's Today Show.
"The government has been asleep at the wheel, not enforcing the law and providing the appropriate health services to our coal miners."
The CFMEU though, believes taxpayers shouldn't bear the cost of treating the sick and wants mining companies to pay for a victims fund through a 10-cent levy on every tonne of coal produced in Queensland.