With Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh
Mineworkers in Ghana have passionately called on Parliament to as a matter of urgency amend Mining Regulations (L.I 665) 1970 to reflect the standards spelt out in ILO Convention 176 to address the inherent deficiencies on health and safety in the mining industry.
According to them, “the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission’s 15-point regulatory framework is no better in terms of providing scope and direction, legal limit, responsibilities and rights to provide a basis for creating legal relationship on health and safety issues.
America, South Africa, Australia and few other countries have Mine Health and Safety Acts with well structured institutions created out of these laws which police their industry, publish data and statistics on health and safety and report to government and other industry players”.
The General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU), Mr. Prince William Ankrah told journalists in Obuasi that the union strongly believed that the Ghana Chamber of Mines will partner them in the pursuit of the ratification process of the Convention.
“The need to ratify this Convention is urgently imperative. The recent development in Chile and New Zealand attest to our call for the ratification process to be continued through tripartite engagement. Ghana Mineworkers’ Union intends liaising with the TUC to drive this process for the betterment of our cherished members in their quest to strengthen the foreign exchange base of our struggling economy”, he stressed
For instance, Mr. William Ankrah observed that Ghana’s mining industry is controlled and monitored by a number of legal and regulatory frameworks that affect almost every aspect of the industry.
Health and Safety issues have, however, been obscured or inhibited in the various legal regimes, either as a result of preference for reducing the burden of would-be investors, particularly in the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 Act 703, which consolidated most of the mining laws into one document, or health and safety issues did not matter and should be relegated to the background, the General Secretary lamented.
The Business Chronicle gathered that the Convention, like most of the ILO Conventions is a product of tripartite negotiation involving the social partner (governments, employers and labour) at the international level at the ILO of which Ghana was a participant.
The Convention is a reflection of balanced interests of the major stakeholders in the global mining industry.
The Convention was adopted on 22nd June 1995 at the 82nd Session of the ILO General Conference at Geneva. The Safety and Health in Mines Convention, 1995 (No.176) is central to achieving decent work in an industry, which has occupational safety and health as its main challenge.
Convention 176 provides the necessary basis for a sustainable mining industry that ensures that its workers return from their workplaces safe and healthy, and that companies can attract and retain workers.
Under the Convention, the employer is mandated to assess all risks and deal with it in the following order of priority: eliminate the risk, control the risk at source, minimize the risk by means that include the design of safe work systems, and in so far as the risk remain provide for the use of personal protective equipment, having regard to what is reasonable, practicable and feasible, and to good practice and the exercise of due diligence.
Where workers are exposed to physical, chemical or biological hazards, the employer shall inform the workers in a comprehensible manner of the hazards associated with their work, the health risks involved and relevant preventive and protective measures provided among other responsibilities.