Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay Coal loading facilities. Picture: Daryl Wright
Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay Coal loading facilities. Picture: Daryl Wright

Mackay port workers fear coronavirus biosecurity ‘weak link’

COAL port workers fear a lack of biosecurity protocols has left them and the broader community potentially exposed to the deadly coronavirus, a miners' union claims.

The CFMEU has called for stronger biosecurity measures to protect the workers it claims are at risk due to a relaxed approach taken by shipping companies and port terminal managers.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland vice president Shane Brunker said union members at five coal ports along the Queensland coast, including Abbot Point, Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point, were concerned about the lack of biosecurity protocols to tackle the deadly virus.

"While planes and cruise ships are boarded and checked by biosecurity agents before anyone else is exposed, coal port workers are the ones exposed to the crew of merchant vessels first," Mr Brunker said.

"Our members have not been given any additional training and management is making no extra precautions.

"Workers who have expressed concerns have been told to wear face masks and use hand sanitiser. That's just not good enough."

The CFMEU has called on the Federal Government to address the risk and "pull these shipping companies and port terminal managers into line".

The Australian Border Force has been contacted for comment.



It comes after Chinese nationals flown to Mackay from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak are being closely monitored for symptoms of the contagious disease.

Aurizon coal haulage wagons delivered to the Port of Mackay last week were built in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.

Four representatives from the wagon manufacturer were flown to Mackay this month to assist with commissioning.

An Aurizon spokesman said they had not presented any symptoms of the virus.

A North Queensland Bulk Ports spokeswoman said it would continue to remain vigilant, heed the advice from authorities and monitor incoming foreign vessels in order to manage any risks.