Coalminer has second court win after mining injury

A CENTRAL Queensland coalminer, who was awarded $626,280 in compensation after a workplace injury, has had another win in court after his employer attempted to have him stood down on medical grounds.

Michael Keith Haylett, 42, developed an injury to his spine which required surgery while working as a dozer operator between 2009 and 2010 at Hail Creek Mine, 120km south-west of Mackay.

The Brisbane Supreme Court heard when Mr Haylett returned to work the company retrained him as a drill rig operator.

The hearing in April heard Mr Haylett underwent a medical assessment last November under the coalmine workers' health scheme as prescribed under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation.

Under that scheme, there are consequences for the employment of a worker who is assessed as unable to carry out the worker's tasks at a coalmine without creating an unacceptable level of risk.

The court heard a company-appointed doctor examined Mr Haylett and found he was unfit to undertake his duties at the mine as prescribed under the regulation.

"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," the doctor said in his assessment.

Mr Haylett challenged the doctor's decision and sought a declaration that his report should be given no legal effect.

His legal team argued that the opinion expressed by the doctor was not an answer to the relevant question, which was whether Mr Haylett was then able to do the work of a drill rig operator.

Justice Philip McMurdo, in handing down his decision, agreed the doctor did not address the question as required under the regulation.

He found that the doctor's opinion was unambiguous in referring to a future risk of injury in his report and he did not address whether Mr Haylett had the capacity to perform the work for which he was employed.

He ordered the doctor's report void.

Topics:  mining

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