If you’ve ever worked in mining, or even if you haven’t, you know the reputation of mining as a tough knock-about, work-hard-play-hard kind of industry – tough people doing a tough job. And a lot of it’s true. But what we don’t hear a lot about is the struggles miners can face with their health – physical, mental and emotional – and how often it’s neglected.
This really came home to me in a recent episode of the Full Production podcast with a good old mate of mine, Tony Andrews. There’s not much around mines that Tony hasn’t done or seen, and he’s a hell of a character. Sadly, Tony is suffering from terminal cancer. Hearing his stories, it really hit home the importance of looking after ourselves – because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have much.
I don’t want this to sound preachy, just a bit of a reminder from one miner to another.
Look After Your Body
For most of us, safety and security on-site is a big thing. As that old saying goes: Everything in mining is written in blood. Listening to Tony, you can see how the industry has come a long way since it’s earlier days. But it’s important not to get into that ‘she’ll be right mate’ mindset. You want to be able to walk away at the end of the day. Looking after your body isn’t something you should just focus on while on-site. Think about how you’re treating yourself off-site too. If you’re not physically up to the task of getting through the day, you’re really leaving yourself open to disaster.
Look After Your Head
If you’ve been in the mining game for any length of time, you’ve probably seen the effects of alcoholism, breakdown and mental illness. If you find you’re forcing yourself to put on your ‘no worries’ face, stop and talk to somebody, best if it’s somebody skilled in the area. Just like with your body, if your head is not in the game, you shouldn’t be around a mine site.
Look After Your Heart
Often linked to the point above, loneliness, isolation and relationship breakdown can also be struggles for many miners. If you’re in a relationship, make time for it. If you’re not, make time so you can meet someone. Your mates at the mine site are great, but it’s good to have something more to go home to when the gates are shut.
Ultimately, the biggest lesson I took away from my conversation with Tony was that the only thing you really take out of life is the relationships you have in it, and my relationship with Tony is something I’m going to cherish for a very long time.
Listen to my entire conversation with Tony here.