Employees in the NSW Coal Mining Industry must be insured by Coal Mines Insurance

Legislative change stipulates employees in the coal mining industry must be covered by a policy of insurance with Coal Mines Insurance

In recent years the coal mining industry in New South Wales has witnessed significant changes with respect to the provision of labour and the increased reliance of contract employees.

This has created a legal conundrum of sorts when it comes to the question of workers compensation entitlements for those workers injured on a mine site who may not be a direct employee of the mine.

The provider of workers compensation insurance in the industry has for many years been Coal Mines Insurance and the general understanding was that those employers who employed people within the coal mining industry were to insure with CMI.

This has not always been the case however.

We have acted for a number of workers who sustained injury on a mine site and are therefore deemed to be ‘coal miners’ for the purpose of compensation entitlements however the insurer on risk has been a New South Wales general scheme agent, such as  CGU or GIO for example. The test to ascertain what compensation benefits an injured worker is entitled to is determined by the whether or not they were working “in or about a coal mine” as opposed to the identity of their insurer (for further information on this, see our earlier post at: https://www.shawbunner.com.au/blog-1/2018/3/27/coal-miners-compensation-working-in-or-about-a-coal-mine )

What we have seen over the years is the complexities general insurers are required to grapple with when dealing with a ‘deemed’ coal miner as the entitlements differ greatly from the general NSW system.

Late last year, the State Government took steps to address the confusion with the passing of the Coal Industry Amendment Act 2018.

From October 2018, employers who employee workers whom enter mine sites will be required to hold a policy of workers compensation insurance with Coal Mines Insurance. The changes have extended employer’s obligations with respect to insurance coverage for employees in the coal mining industry. Companies may risk hefty financial penalties if they do not meet the new workers’ compensation requirements when the Coal Industry Amendment Act 2018 is enforced from October 1.

We anticipate that the changes will also affect many employers who provide services to the industry, such as field service maintenance or cleaning services to on-site facilities.

Our view is that this is a positive change for those individuals working in the coal mining industry, particularly workers who are not a direct employee of the mine occupier. It will provide a degree of clarity as to the compensation entitlements available to those injured in the industry. We foresee an increase in the number of claims managed by Coal Mines Insurance; the benefit to workers being their understanding of the unique entitlements available to miners.

If you have any questions regarding the changes or your own compensation rights, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team.