Workplace injury victim keeps job at Hail Creek

A dozer operator who suffered spinal injury at the Hail Creek Mine has managed to keep his retrained position as a drill rig operator.

A Rio Tinto Coal-appointed doctor assessed 42-year-old Michael Haylett under the coalmine workers’ health scheme, who was found to be unfit to undertake his duties at the mine.

The doctor said he was “unfit due to a significant and foreseeable risk of further injury or aggravation of medical condition which prevents him from performing the occupational demands of the role.”

Haylett challenged the findings of the report in the Brisbane Supreme Court, with the argument that the doctor’s opinion was not a relevant answer to the question of whether or not Haylett was fit to do the work of a drill rig operator.

Justice Phillip McMurdo said the doctor had not addressed the question as required under the Coal Mining Safety and Health regulation, and ordered the doctor’s report void.

In May this year Michael Keith Haylett was awarded $628,280 in compensation for spinal injuries developed between 2009 and 2010 while working as a bulldozer operator.

Judge John Baulch said in his judgement earlier this year that the mine had admitted liability and causation, and that the issues of the matter related only to the determination of the amount of damages.

Baulch said that Haylett’s injury was caused by long hours of work over rough ground and large rocks, and that he was not fit to return to his trade.

Haylett had been retrained by the mine to work on one of their drill crews, however Judge Baulch said “The restrictions that the plaintiff suffers are significant ones and will trouble him for the rest of his life.”

Haylett’s injuries were rated at 25 per cent whole person impairment.

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