The Queensland Government has announced it will make sure that all workers at Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel Refinery who are retrenched will all receive exit medical checks.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that Mr Palmer’s refusal to fund such exit medical checks put at risk both the health and the rights of recovery of the 729 retrenched workers.
“By the very nature of their work, they have been exposed to a range of industrial processes that may include exposure to harmful chemicals, so it’s vital that they get their exit medicals,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick said this is an exceptional case. Queensland Nickel is a big industrial facility and has been a major employer in Townsville, and the health risks are unknown.
“The tailings dam that is on site contains dangerous material such as ammonia and other waste which could be dangerous to the environment, but we need to establish if they could be putting human health at risk as well.”
Mr Dick said Queensland Health would provide logistical and procurement support for the medicals through its Townsville Hospital and Health Service.
“The circumstance the QNI employees find themselves in is very unfortunate and although provision of exit medicals is not a current Queensland Health function, we are well placed to arrange and pay for exit medicals for these vulnerable workers,” he said.
The move was supported by the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham.
More than 700 workers were sacked from the Queensland Nickel Refinery earlier this year.