Wearing out: Injuries in the Underground Coal Mining

9 March 2022

In the last few days Whitelaw McDonald acted on behalf of a coal miner with 39 years underground experience.  Despite our client coming to retirement having not made a claim not having retired on medical grounds, proceedings were commenced against Coal Mines Insurance on the basis of injuries of “attrition” or “wearing out” from the very nature and the conditions of his work.

Our client's work involved:

  1. Repetitive lifting and/or heaving often involving bending and/or twisting and/or kneeling and squatting in order to lift and carry heavy equipment including stone dust bags, oil drums, roof bolts, flexi- bolts up to eight metres in length, heavy electrical cables, pneumatic pumps, and manual installation and removal of heavy pneumatic pumps in inundated locations thereby placing strain on neck, back, shoulders, wrists, hips, knees and ankles.
  2. Walking long distances on rough, uneven ground, muddy, sodden and/or water inundated ground, through swillies and standing on canches, wearing heavy footwear of a wellington type boot nature placing strain on ankles, knees and hips
  3. Striking head on low canopies, protrusions from roof surfaces including baulks, timbers, w straps, side shields and roof bolts causing severe jolting and jarring of the neck
  4.  Driving and/or riding in coal mining transport vehicles which travel over rough and uneven ground resulting in sudden, unexpected severe jolts and jarring of the body in particular the neck and lower back
  5.  Roof and rib bolting, installation of mesh, water pipes, and air lines on roof involving working with arms above shoulder height with extension of the neck causing strain on the neck, shoulders and back
  6.  Installing mesh, water pipes, and air lines on roofs necessitating working with arms above shoulder height for prolonged periods
  7.  Balancing vent tubes on head placing strain on the neck and shoulders
  8.  Working in confined spaces in awkward positions including squatting, crouching, stooping, twisting and bending in order to dig out coal and other rocks and to retrieve buried machinery using picks and shovels to break coal and rocks placing strain on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, knees, and ankles
  9.  Using pneumatic tools generating vibrations subjecting all body parts including hands and wrists to severe shocks
  10.  The requirement to wear and/or carry heavy items including pit cap, cap lamp, battery, self-rescuer, tools and monitoring equipment.

The matter was successfully resolved for a six figure tax free lump sum.

Additional entitlements are now being pursued by Whitelaw McDonald for total and permanent disablement under separate and additional insurance held by our client with Mine Super.

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