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April 15, 2009

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Government offers benefits to injured miners

The Government has announced that thousands of miners suffering from osteoarthritis will be allowed to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

Work and Pensions minister Kitty Ussher, made the announcement yesterday (15 April) while visiting the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield. She confirmed that osteoarthritis, more commonly known as ‘miner’s knee’, would be added to a list of prescribed diseases in the summer, allowing sufferers to apply for state compensation.

Ministers decided to implement the ruling after receiving a report on the disease from the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council. The report stated that miners are exposed to ‘more than double the risk of osteoarthritis’ compared with other workers, and that workers who have spent more than ten years in mining are at ‘excessive risk’ from the disease. The Council said that sufferers experience a variety of symptoms including pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell, said: “It is right that this help should be available to coal miners who are suffering from this painful condition following years of hard work. This disease has made life very difficult for a large number of retired miners and forced others to end their working life earlier than planned, so I am pleased that we are now in a position that we will be able to offer them valuable financial assistance.”

The National Union of Miners (NUM) national secretary, Chris Kitchen, welcomed the announcement, saying: “This is a substantial success for the hard work done by the NUM in respect of this crippling disease.”

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