Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1846 12
A. Patterson - E. Tracey - A. Signoroni
  • Cancer (lung)
  • Exposure (diesel fumes)
  • Smoking
  • Mining

The worker worked for a mining company from 1974 to 2005. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, at age 53. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for the lung cancer.

From 1974 to 1993, he worked in the smelter. From 1993 to 2005, he worked underground. The worker had no significant exposure to asbestos or silica. There were distinct periods of exposure to diesel exhaust while working underground. This underground mining history was of relatively short duration. The worker was a moderate smoker from 1974 to 1985. This 10 pack year history of smoking was relatively short and also fairly remote from the diagnosis of lung cancer more than 20 years later.
The worker began working underground in 1993. He, therefore, fell into the group of miners beginning in 1960 or later, for whom no statistical evidence of excess incidence of lung cancer was demonstrated, according to the Julian and Muir study. A Diesel and Exhaust Miners Study (DEMS) identified an SIR of 126, well below the 200 threshold that has been adopted by the Tribunal.
The 10 pack year history of smoking was relatively short and fairly remote from diagnosis. However, a Tribunal medical discussion paper indicated that the worker may have greatly diminished the risk of developing lung cancer by smoking relatively moderately and quitting a significant period before diagnosis but the risk of developing lung cancer remained at least twice as high as that of someone who had never smoked.
There was insufficient evidence that workplace exposure to diesel exhaust made a significant contribution to the development of the worker's cancer. The appeal was dismissed.