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Mining remains a top danger to workers

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“The International Labor Organization (ILO) calls it one of the most hazardous occupation and unfortunately, mining has again proven ILO correct as the sector continues to claims lives of miners.”

This was the statement made today by Noel Colina, Executive Director of the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (www.IOHSAD.org) after a mining site in Antique killed 5 miners while 5 workers remain unaccounted for. According to news reports, a landslide occurred at an open pit coal mine in Caluya Island in Antique at around 12 midnight last Thursday February 13, 2013, burying the miners.

“The managers of the mine were alerted of the cracks but they ignored the warning,” said Colina, referring to a news report posted on a PTV News website. “Multiple witness confirms such reports but management of the Semirara Coal Corporation are said to be stonewalling authorities and the media, limiting information as to what actually happened”.

“The authorities must stop the operation of the mine until a complete and thorough investigation has occurred. Rule 1012.02 or Abatement of Imminent Danger of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) allows the Department of Labor and Empolyment (DoLE) to shut down the operation and require the company specific measures to correct dangerous practices and/or maintain a stoppage of operation if the recommendations are not adhered to by the erring company,” opined Colina

According to the records of IOHSAD, in 2009, there were 84 deaths in the mining industry, in 2010 26 death while in 2011, 14 deaths were recorded.

Aside from the danger of tunnel collapse, coal miners also face other work hazards, including Black Lung Disease or pneumoconiosis, a condition developed due to prolonged exposure to coal dust. “Due to regular exposure to high levels of coal dust, coal dust accumulates in the lungs of the miners, turning them black. The dust cannot be expelled by the body and eventually, breathing becomes difficult. Unfortunately, no medicine can cure pneumoconiosis,” ended Colina.