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I was moved to tears this week watching footage of the 33 miners who had been trapped underground for 69 days being reunited with their loved ones, their liberty and their country. As someone who deals in health and safety law I was heartened to hear the president of Chile claim that he would launch an investigation in to the  health and safety within the mining industry while giving an  undertaking to stamp out the inhuman working conditions.

I am disappointed that it took the near perishing of 33 of its citizens for the government to sit up and take note. I am always representing clients who tell me that things were done immediately following an accident at work that would have prevented the accident happening in the first place had a risk assessment been carried out to comply with the requirements of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

I understand that one of the miners was already suffering from Silicosis. In the past, Thompsons Solicitors have acted for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) involving compensation claims for chronic bronchitis emphysema, COPD, vibration white finger, industrial deafness, accidents at work together with lung diseases contracted through the inhalation of coal dust, one of which being Silicosis.

If those miners in Chile are members of a similar trade union, then I would be encouraging them to make compensation claims for not only being trapped under ground for 69 days, which is likely to induce a psychological injury, but any other conditions contracted while they were incarcerated half a mile below the ground including dental problems, eye problems and there are a number of conditions contracted due to inhalation of the coal dust that not only attack the lungs but also the digestive system.

However, these men have now become miner celebrities and may now be disinclined to both enter a mine let alone make a compensation claim for their personal injury. Despite the fact that they emerged from the mine looking like they’d just watched a 3D film and forgot to take their glasses off they appear to be embracing their new found fame, I resent how mainstream and famous the Chilean miners have become, I liked them when they were a bit more underground.  

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