Photo: File
Photo: File Jacob Miley

Miner who was told to work after injury wins huge payout

A FORMER Bowen Basin coal miner, who was told to keep working despite a serious hand injury, has been awarded close to $1 million after suing his then-employer.

Daniel Walker, 32, started working in coal mines in 2009 where he gained multiple tickets and found a job he was passionate about.

In handing down the judgement in the Supreme Court at Rockhampton on April 11, Justice Graeme Crow said Mr Walker "considered it was the career path that he had been looking for the whole of his life".

Mr Walker started working at Newlands Northern Underground mine in the Bowen Basin in July 2011 and, according to Justice Crow, was "extremely happy working underground".

On April 7, 2013, Mr Walker was installing a bolt into the roof of an underground mine using a high-powered hydraulic drill.

The drill was attached to an underground mining vehicle, which was manoeuvred around the mine to drill into the roof of a mine.

At 5.30pm that day, Mr Walker's right hand came into contact with "the sharp surface inside the boom of the roof bolter" causing a deep cut to his hand.

Mr Walker gave evidence in a trial at Rockhampton in March that he saw a deep cut to his right knuckle near his middle finger.

He saw a large open wound and white tissue where the skin had peeled back, which was bleeding profusely.

Mr Walker went to the mine's first aid room where the wound was washed and dressed.

He planned to see his doctor the next day, but at about 7am on April 8 a mine supervisor called Mr Walker and told him "not to worry" about the injury and to come in to work on "suitable duties".

"Mr Walker knew that had he not arrived for work then it would be necessary to classify his injury as a lost time injury, which might affect bonuses paid to his fellow employees and to his supervisor," Justice Crow said.

"Mr Walker attended work with his right hand bandaged and assumed that he would be deployed to light duties.

"Rather than being provided with suitable duties, Mr Walker was sent back into the mine and asked to perform bolting on a continuous miner.

"As he was working in an underground mine, the dressing became contaminated.

"Mr Walker changed his dressing on five occasions after it had been covered with coal, oil, water and other substances."

Mr Walker told a mine deputy he was in pain and worried about the wound, but he worked the full shift.

The next day he was unable to work, his hand started to swell and he developed a fever.

On April 14, Mr Walker went to the Glenden ambulance station and was told to go to Mackay hospital immediately.

The injury was infected and required surgery.

Despite this, Mr Walker continued to suffer pain and in mid-December 2013, developed a depressive psychiatric illness.

As a result of ongoing pain and disability, Mr Walker's adjustment disorder snowballed into a major depressive disorder in late 2015.

Justice Crow accepted Mr Walker's evidence and ultimately ruled in his favour, awarding a total of $999,506.50 in damages plus legal costs.

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