The union representing Hunter coal miners says while the industry has been free of deaths for the past two years, workplace injuries remain a concern.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union is expecting hundreds of people to attend tomorrow’s 18th annual memorial, to reflect on the 1,800 lives lost since mining started in the Hunter.

The CFMEU’s Grahame Kelly says while work safety has improved, the event is a timely reminder that the industry needs to remain vigilant.

“We had a fatality two years ago, but we still have lots of people seriously injured in the coal industry,” he said.

“And there’s forever a push to do things quicker and the like, so there always needs to be a vigilance in making sure that people return home safely.”

Mr Kelly says plans to extend shifts for workers at Hunter coal mines may compromise safety standards in the industry.

“One of our great challenges is shiftwork,” he said.

“We’ve got mines in the northern coal fields who are considering working seven-12 hour shifts in a row and we think that’s ridiculous.

“This memorial is an opportunity for those people who’ve lost loved ones to come and remember them as well as for all of us to double our efforts to ensure that we maintain safety.”

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