Mine worker burned in cement gumboot incident lodges complaint against mining company Mandalay Resources
31 January 2014
Employment law experts Maurice Blackburn has lodged a complaint with the Fair Work Commission against Mandalay Resources on behalf of a worker who was sacked just six weeks after he was injured at work.
Dean Marcon was working as a grout crew member at Mandalay Resources' gold and antimony mine near Heathcote in central Victoria last November when cement and water got into his gumboot, causing irritation and burns to his right foot.
Kamal Farouque, an employment law principal at Maurice Blackburn, said Mandalay Resources had not only failed to provide adequate training about the dangers of cement, but had also breached a number of workplace rights after the cement gumboot incident.
"When Dean tried to call in sick after the cement injury, he was told by a supervisor to turn up at work because if he stayed at home it would affect the company's workplace injury record," Mr Farouque said.
"When the company finally arranged for Dean to receive medical treatment three days later, the doctor said he should have sought treatment immediately after the injury occurred, as cement can continue to burn skin even after it has been washed off."
In the following weeks while recovering from the injury, Dean was assigned to light duties including some administration tasks that required him to wear a steel-capped boot in the office and walk around on his injured foot.
He later told a supervisor he was concerned there were not enough light duties for him to perform in the office, and said he would prefer to either go back to work underground or stay at home to rest his foot, as his doctor had advised he needed to air his foot to get better.
The 37-year-old father of three was then given a negative performance review that included a comment from the mine manager reading: "Be more open to direction rather than voice your opinion." After complaining about his treatment, his contract was terminated.
"This mining company has shown a fundamental disregard to workers' rights, including the right to take sick leave and make a complaint," Mr Farouque said.
"This is a hard-working man who was just trying to do his job and earn an income for his family. He was the sole breadwinner for his wife and three children. He thought this would be a long-term job.
"Dean is now unemployed and living in a remote town with limited prospects for finding another job. This dismissal has affected his reputation in his community and impacted him emotionally and financially."
Dean says he has been devastated by what happened. "I just wanted to go to work and do my job. Since losing my job, I'm worried about my family's financial position and how I'm going to get another job."