By Samantha James
RESEARCH by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) claims that almost 80 per cent of miners are overweight or obese.
The statistics, commissioned by Jenny Craig, ranked mining as the most overweight industry in the country at 78.2 per cent, with transport, postal and warehousing (74.8 per cent) and wholesale trading (69.7 per cent) coming a close second and third.
An obese employee was terminated by BHP Coal at a site in Queensland in 2014 on the basis that his weight was a safety risk.
This decision was upheld by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, which ruled that employers’ rights and obligations to ensure the safety of employees extend to the impact of overweight workers.
Commercial law firm Clayton Utz stated that while future risks of health concerns directly related to an employee’s weight could not be used as a basis for termination, employers were entitled to terminate a worker’s employment where he or she was currently unable to perform their inherent requirements due to their weight.
Mining companies also have grounds for termination if the employee’s weight creates an unacceptable level of risk for the employer or other employees, as defined under the relevant state or territory safety legislation.
Dietitian James Morris said unhealthy lunch options contributed to weight gain and were part of the problem; workers at mine sites had little control over what they ate, making it difficult for them to remain healthy.
“Eating healthy at work is all about planning,” he said.
“For a lot of people on the go it can be hard to plan ahead, so they make convenience choices which tend to be unhealthy.”
If there was no other choice than to buy lunch or eat what was provided, Mr Morris said to look for meals that were rich in fruit and vegetables and low in high GI carbohydrates.
Australia has one of the fastest growth rates for overweight and obese people, according to research from Obesity Australia.
The ABS’ National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 reported that 63.4 per cent of Australian adults were overweight or obese, equating to 11.2 million people.
This number has increased steadily since 1995 (56.3 per cent).