Grosvenor Mine blast first responders seeking claim for PTSD
Eight first responders who helped save five men horrifically injured in the Grosvenor Mine disaster are seeking compensation claims for potential post traumatic stress disorder.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth stated this information during a public hearing for the Inquiry into the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020.
The bill proposes to introduce presumptive workers compensation for first responders and other eligible employees in Queensland who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD.
It has been described as "an important bill for protecting the interests of first responders".
Mr Smyth said coal miners who were first responders to emergencies had to fight "tooth and nail" to have these claims accepted in the past.
On May 6 2020, five underground miners sustained severe burns injuries during a blast at Anglo American's Grosvenor Mine near Moranbah.
During the public hearing, Mr Smyth was asked how many CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland members had sought claims under existing pathways for PTSD.
"Of interest, at the moment we have approximately eight members who are seeking that type of assistance due to the Grosvenor Mine explosion," Mr Smyth responded.
"Eleven of those gentlemen are on compensation and eight potentially have post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of being a first responder as a coal mine worker to that event.
"Generally, there have been - and I am aware of numbers in the past, although I do not have them on me now - occasions where people have been in similar situations, or in a similar boat, of having responded to either a tragic or traumatic event and they have had to fight, from our perspective, tooth and nail to have their claim accepted."
Mr Smyth said these men and women included miners, fitters and electricians who provided that help to workmates if needed during emergency events.
The Daily Mercury contacted Grosvenor Mine owner Anglo American for comment.
CFMEU senior legal officer Chris Newman noted these coal miners had different responsibilities compared to traditional emergency service roles like police, firefighters and paramedics.
"Our concern is that the majority of those people are just ordinary coal miners. Their role is an operator or a mine technician," Mr Newman said.
"Their ancillary role is on the mines rescue team. Our concern is that the job that they could be called upon to do that would put them in that first response role is not their primary role. It is not.
"However, when that role is required, they need to do it."
In 2018, Beyond Blue reported first responders had substantially higher rates of psychological distress and mental health conditions.
Their claim rates for mental health conditions or psychological injuries were 10 times higher than the Australian workforce.
The legislation is currently before the parliament with the bill to be debated at a later date.
If you or anyone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.