Workers at Rio Tinto's Hail Creek mine rejected a new workplace agreement, despite an offer of $10,000.
Workers at Rio Tinto's Hail Creek mine rejected a new workplace agreement, despite an offer of $10,000.

CQ miner settles $1.3million lawsuit over hand injury

A BOWEN BASIN miner filed a lawsuit for more than $1.3 million in damages after he was forced to use a rattle gun for an extended period of time which led to multiple finger surgeries.

Francisco De Freitas, now 62 of The Leap, Mackay, was employed as a diesel fitter to work at the Hail Creek coal mine, 120kms southwest of Mackay.

He had been employed there since October 2011.

In May 2017, Mr De Freitas was on nightshift and was removing axle bolts from six Komatsu haul trucks, according to his Statement of Claim.

Mr De Freitas claimed this work was normally carried out by another worker who was absent.

It is also detailed the work is normally completed using a hi-torque hydraulic torque wrench, however it was being repaired and was unavailable.

Instead, Mr De Freitas used a rattle gun, which took 30 to 40 minutes for each bolt on all axle bolts from the wheel motors on six trucks.

After completing this Mr De Freitas claimed his hands were sore.

The next night, he used the rattle gun again and when ­removing a bolt, his ring finger was stuck, and he could not move it.

It is claimed he suffered personal injuries to his hands and wrists.

The statement of claim detailed he had surgery in June 2017 and again in November.

The lawsuit alleged Hail Creek Coal failed to provide gloves that would reduce the symptoms of hand arm vibration and failed to provide a safe system of work or provide proper training and supervision.

It was further claimed, Hail Creek Coal's occupational health and safety management system restricted the use of rattle guns to 1.5 to 2.5 hours per a 12-hour shift and this was breached.

It was also alleged the company should have provided another tool in the same capacity as the torque wrench that was unavailable.

Mr De Freitas claimed loss and damage of $1,334,288.93.

This included $329,546.59 of past economic loss and $558,000 for future economic loss.

An offer to settle was filed on May 5 and it is understood a settlement agreement was reached.

The details of the settlemnent amount could not be disclosed.

The defence declined to comment on the matter.