A FORMER Mount Isa Mines employee has lodged a compensation claim against the company following a life-threatening asbestos-related illness.
Ernest Tanna was diagnosed with lung cancer in January of this year after working as a labourer for close to two decades across the state.
Mr Tanna worked as a trade assistant at the then-Mount Isa Mines lead smelter between 1973 and 1980, where he claims he was exposed to high levels of asbestos.
The Bundaberg man approached Slater and Gordon Lawyers soon after his diagnosis with a compensation claim against various sugar mills and the Johnstone Shire Council, but the bulk of the claim is against Mount Isa Mines.
Mr Tanna said he was not provided with masks or breathing equipment during his time working both above and below ground, and he was not at any time informed about asbestos presence or dangers.
"I would come home covered in dust from head to toe," he said.
"If I had have known about the dangers of asbestos back then, I wouldn't have gone anywhere near it.
"I was just doing my job and getting paid to do it, and now my life has been thrown into chaos and I'm concerned for my wife and family."
Mr Tanna said he was also concerned for his former colleagues, some of whom had approached the law firm with a similar claim.
Slater and Gordon asbestos lawyer Carl Hughes said because the diagnosis of asbestos-related cancer usually occurred 30 to 40 years after exposure, the extent of people affected by the exposure would not be known for years to come.
"Mr Tanna is one of many former employees who worked both above and below ground at the mine and was exposed to asbestos insulation materials as frequently as on a daily basis," he said.
Mr Tanna's claim states the majority of the asbestos exposure came from tasks such as cutting cement fibro pipes and cleaning worksites, where he was exposed to asbestos dust from brake pads and brake linings.
Xstrata Mount Isa Mines was contacted but a representative said the company was unable to comment on matters relating to workplace compensation.
"Asbestos is very dangerous when it's disturbed, and people should know that no matter what contact they have had with asbestos, the dangers are very real," Mr Hughes said.
"This is a sad case when a team of hard-working men have had their lives destroyed due to Australia's ugly history and a reliance on asbestos products."
The law firm urged anyone with a similar issue to provide their details on Slater and Gordon's asbestos register as a reference point in the event that workers develop an asbestos-related disease.
The firm confirmed that Mr Tanna was one of several former Mount Isa Mines workers who had contacted Slater and Gordon after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.