Global search

Primary navigation

22 April 2021


An experienced excavator operator, David Briggs spent 12 weeks helping to contain the open cut mine fire which took hold in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley in early 2014.

Maurice Blackburn Principal, Sally Weir says his employer, RTL Mining and Earthworks failed to provide Mr Briggs with any respiratory protection while carrying out his duties

“Mr Briggs’ skin and clothing were covered in smoke, coal dust and other pollutants at the end of each shift.

“Six months later he began feeling flu-like symptoms and has since been diagnosed with a rare interstitial lung disease and autoimmune condition and now was to carry an oxygen cylinder at all times to help him breath,” Ms Weir said.

“David’s WorkCover claim was initially rejected by the insurer but we were able to successfully argue in court that there was a causal link between his work at the mine fire and his health conditions.

“Now the Victorian Supreme Court has rejected the insurer’s attempt to have that decision overturned on appeal, vindicating our client’s long fight for justice,” Ms Weir said.

“Mr Briggs’ employer was obliged to provide every reasonable protection for all of its workers fighting to bring that toxic fire under control.

“It’s failure to do so has had devastating consequences for Mr Briggs and it is deeply satisfying to see him get the compensation and assistance he deserves,” Ms Weir said.

“I know that for many years following the fire, Mr Briggs had a really hard time financially with no income plus increasing medical expenses, all while his health was deteriorating.

“I am so pleased the legal process is now finally finished and Mr Briggs can now focus on his health and future with the assurance of weekly compensation payments and his medical expenses being met,” Ms Weir said.

“Every worker injured while doing their job deserves no less.”


Media inquiries:  

Maurice Blackburn media team on


Practice Areas:

Workplace injury

Maurice Blackburn media team

Our media team advises and supports Maurice Blackburn lawyers and clients during all forms of media engagement, including video and television appearances, radio, online and print media.

Please direct media inquiries to, or contact team members directly via the phone numbers below.


Jade Knight

National Manager, Public Affairs, Media and communications

  • Brisbane, QLD
  • (07) 3016 0396
    0417 969 438

Michael Cooney

General Manager Public Affairs

  • Melbourne, VIC
  • (03) 9605 2700

Chee Chee Leung

Media Manager, Media and communications

  • Melbourne, VIC
  • (03) 9045 6941
    0412 560 584

Paddy Murphy

Media Manager, Media and communications

  • Melbourne, VIC
  • (03) 8102 2003
    0490 297 391

It doesn't cost you anything to know where you stand 

1800 305 568
We take calls 24/7

Office locations

We’re here to help. Get in touch with your local office.

Select your state below

Our Canberra office is now closed, but our team continues to serve ACT clients and are available for phone and video appointments. If you need legal advice, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.