Industrial deafness in the NSW coal mining industry accounted for approximately 12% of all claims received by Coal Mines Insurance for the five years between 2007-08 and 2011-12.
To date, compensable claims have cost an estimated $5.8 million for that period.
In 2001-02, Australian coal mining had the highest number of insurance claims for noise induced hearing loss and the highest incidence rate (762 per 100,000) of all mining categories. These levels were 14 times the national average of 55.
Coal Services’ Noise Induced Hearing Loss sub-committee has developed the Managing noise in the coal industry to protect hearing booklet to promote a better understanding of the health effects and control of noise in the mining environment.
“Noise induced hearing loss is the most compensated, preventable industrial disease in Australia,” Hartcher said.
“Managing noise in the coal industry to protect hearing is an example of medical and occupational hygiene specialists, government personnel and representatives from industry and unions working together to improve the health and safety of our coal miners.”
Coal Services managing director Lucy Flemming said it had been working with the NSW coal mining industry for many years to detect, monitor and control workplace hazards such as dust and noise.
“With the NIHL sub-committee, we are able to continue to assist employers by providing advice and education in these areas,” she said.
Coal Services occupational hygiene services manager and NIHL sub-committee chairman Gary Mace said the booklet was part of an ongoing plan to educate workers and employers about the effects of excessive workplace noise and how to minimise risk.
“Noise is an inherent characteristic of the mining industry, with workers exposed to loud machinery for extended periods of time,” he said.
“Continued exposure can cause permanent hearing loss which can have devastating effects both physically and socially.”