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Labrador West medical audit report released

L-R . Maria Prairie of Horizon Occupational Health Solutions, Perry Trimper, Minister of service NL, Graham Letto MHA for Labrador West, Fabian Power with OHS.
L-R . Maria Prairie of Horizon Occupational Health Solutions, Perry Trimper, Minister of service NL, Graham Letto MHA for Labrador West, Fabian Power with OHS.

The province says it will implement all 11 recommendations in a medical audit report on the effects of silica dust on mine workers.

The study, completed by Horizon Occupational Health Solutions, was unveiled on May 24 in Labrador West by Service NL minister Perry Trimper, MHA Graham Letto and representatives of Horizon OHS.

Most of the 636 mine workers who volunteered to participate in the study were retired from either the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) or Wabush mines.

According to the report, 601 of them had no suspicion of silicosis.

Thirty-five, however, did have suspicion of silicosis — 13 of those were self-reported and 22 were new finds of suspicion for silicosis.

They were advised to have follow up consultations with their family physicians.

The report made 11 recommendations, which Minister Trimper said would be acted on in a timely matter.

Some of the recommendations include exploring the possibility of having one or two radiologists who specialize in chest radiology to look at X-rays of suspected cases of silicosis, looking at having one or two respirologists as consulting specialists for people with suspected silicosis.

The report also recommended a review of the silica code of practice, more education for workers and physicians, and more inspection of workplaces and their compliance.

Trimper announced two occupational health and safety officers have been hired and will be based permanently in Labrador West.

In recent years safety officers were flown into Labrador West to do inspections.

" A committee meeting will be held next Thursday”, Trimper told the Aurora. “This is a serious matter and we plan to deal with it right away.

"With these recommendations the objective isn't to reduce silicosis cases, but to completely eliminate them,” he said.

MHA Graham Letto told the Aurora, “As someone who worked at the mine and lived in Labrador West for years, I am very pleased to see these recommendations which should ensure a much safer and cleaner work environment for miners in the province".

When questioned if people living in the towns of Wabush and Labrador City, but not working at the mines, were part of the study Trimper explained the study was specific to the miners, but said it is something that could be considered in the future.

"Now the work starts,” he said. “Decisions on the 11 recommendations will be a priority for our government.”

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