Artisanal and small-scale mining strives for safety in Colombia

 

2020 Safety Statistics and Alerts

Mining accident and emergency rates are often high all over the world. In Colombia, the National Mining Agency (ANM in Spanish [1]) has officially reported 119 mining accidents involving 218 miners, 48 were injured and an unfortunate number of 137 workers died. The highest number of accidents has been reported in coal mines. Boyacá accounts for 38% of mining accidents nationwide.

Contrary to the perception of many people, most accidents and emergencies in the country have occurred on legal mines, though this number is also high on illegal mines.

The Path Towards Responsible Mining

The Alliance for Responsible Mining, in cooperation with local allies, invites men and women miners who work on artisanal and small-scale mining to embark on the path towards responsible mining. Although it is a rather complex path with several phases, countries should support small-scale mining to stop seeing it as criminal activity.

Financial resources are often insufficient to reduce these unfortunate statistics and strengthen occupational safety and health in mining organizations.

“Your safety is my safety” Campaign in Antioquia and Boyacá

Considering this, the Alliance for Responsible Mining, within the Somos Tesoro initiative, has been carrying out a series of raising-awareness activities on this very important issue in San Roque (Antioquia) and Paipa (Boyacá) for about three weeks, starting in the second week of October 2020. It has been essential to have the support of local allies such as Gensa in Paipa in these territories .

7 mining units from La María S.A.S. (San Roque, Antioquia) and 13 from Multiactive Agromining Cooperative (Paipa, Boyacá) played a leading role in these activities. Required signage (including those about COVID-19 prevention), first aid kits and control boards for gas emission and gaging station measurements were provided to these mining units.

 

A team of professionals provided support in placing and training on the proper use of these items. The “Your safety is my safety” campaign was also complemented with awareness raising resources.

    Lina Ospino, our occupational safety and health expert in ARM, said that:     

    “During field visits to mining units, we found that a number of actions were required to improve safety and            health conditions at the workplace. As part of the Somos Tesoro initiative, we were able to provide signage,          first aid kits and sanitation equipment to carry out corresponding measurements and contribute to the                  continuous improvement of these mining organizations.” 

During these visits, safety-health conditions such as lighting, noise, humidity, speed, temperature, thermal stress were also measured, which provide mining units with the opportunity to identify whether their levels are within the acceptable range established by the mining authority and obtain recommendations from experts.

We also carried out some workshops related to healthy lifestyle habits, creation of a job profile diagram, formation of an emergency response team and training on dangerous mine atmospheres.

Through these supplies and training sessions, miners are able now to achieve greater compliance with mining health and safety regulations.

 

Somos Tesoro is a leading initiative for the reduction of child labor in mining areas in Colombia, implemented by the Pact and Alliance for Responsible Mining consortium and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

[1] https://www.anm.gov.co/?q=emergencias_mineras

 

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