WorkCover estimates workplace incidents in the mining industry are almost twice the average rate of workplace injuries and mining companies are being urged to provide better on-site care for workers.
Back injuries account for almost a quarter of all major workplace injuries, costing $138 million and 70 884 lost weeks, according to President of the Chiropractor’s Association of Australia (NSW) Dr Kerein Earney.
“Getting staff back to work faster should be a priority for employers as a report released last year by the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine showed the longer someone is off work, the worse their health and life expectancy becomes,” she said.
“Employers have a responsibility to provide injured workers with the best possible treatment, to enable them to stay on the job or return to the workforce quickly and to lead active, pain free lives.”
Dr Fred Stevenson has provided chiropractic care for miners in the Hunter area for 12 years and he says companies are beginning to see the benefits of on site care for workers.
“Healthier employees have a direct influence on healthier bottom lines for mining companies through a reduction in absenteeism, increased productivity, fewer health insurance and compensation claims, lower health care costs and reduced staff turnover,” he said.
“Working out of the first aid rooms at the Gretley Colliery near Wallsend, the Bulga Mine near Singleton and the Newstan Colliery near Lake Macquarie, I found there was no one walking around without a problem and very few without pain.
“In fact many of the miners I treated had been reliant on pain medication just to get through their working day.
“Miners often work long shifts performing physically challenging and repetitive tasks and are therefore at an increased risk of acute musculoskeletal injury and long term damage."
Image: The ABC