Obese miner wins appeal

A MORBIDLY obese miner, deemed unfit to operate heavy machinery because of the "significant risk" of a sudden cardiac arrest, has won his job back after successfully appealing the ruling.

The 47-year-old, who works at Curragh coal mine near Rockhampton, is 179cm tall and weighs 163kg, giving him a "malignant" BMI of 50.8.

A health review also noted he had a 52cm neck circumference which meant he had an increased risk of cardio-vascular disease.

The man, known as MBR in a Court of Appeal judgment delivered on Friday, has successfully fought the order preventing him from working in the mine.

A Rockhampton Supreme Court justice previously had upheld the health assessment finding, but three Court of Appeal justices yesterday set the report aside and awarded unknown costs.

Dr David Parker said he reviewed the man's health under rules in the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation Act which required mines to put management and operating systems in place to minimise risks and hazards.

He said he had interpreted his role as looking at workers' present ability to perform duties and whether their health posed a future risk.

Justice Margaret McMurdo said an initial report from an examining doctor did not detail any reason why the man was not fit for duty working around heavy vehicles, performing heavy manual handling or working in a variety of conditions.

She said Dr Parker had reached his conclusion, that the man was "unfit to operate due to a significant and foreseeable risk of sudden incapacity", through details about the man's size.

But Justice McMurdo yesterday found the legislative scheme was "not concerned with the risk of a worker developing an illness or other condition in the future".

Rather it was about "fitness for work in the sense of ability and capacity to perform the tasks of the relevant position at the time of assessment", she said.

"The act and the regulation are not concerned with the impossible task of avoiding all risk of injury but with keeping risk to an acceptable level," she said.