Franklin Kolma | Post Courier | September 8, 2016
Papua New Guinea’s foremost authority on mining standards says there is dire need for legislations that prioritise the health and safety of mine workers.
Papua New Guinea Mineral Resource Authority’s Chief Inspector of Mines Mr Lave Michael said this yesterday during the third annual National Health and Safety Symposium held at the Divine Word University in Madang Province.
Mr Michael told a host of experts and scholars at the university’s SVD Auditorium that workers needed to be brought back to the centre of legislative processes as current legislations were outdated and irrelevant and did not have the interests of mine workers at the forefront of operations.
The MRA head explained that mining was at the epicentre of the country’s economic endeavours accounting for 60 percent of our export earnings and that legislations had to be changed to ensure that the employees’ health and safety were given prominence.
“Currently, mining companies come in and may have good worker welfare or health and safety policies, but at the end of the day our legislations take precedence,” said Mr Michael.
“Because our legislations take precedence, mining companies abide by our legislations which are out of date, focusing more on procedural and prescriptive notions rather than actual risk management.”
The MRA Chief Inspector said that as such legislations have let our mine workers down resulting in many cases of serious bodily grievances contracted during mine employment, a few of which have been fatal.
He said that 32 workers employed in mineral extraction entities have reportedly suffered serious illnesses with two confirmed deaths as a direct result of hazardous mine related endeavours.
“It is high time we stop being concerned about the golden eggs like infrastructure and development and start taking an interest in the hens that produce these societally enhancing eggs,” said Mr Michael.