Mine workers in Fiji not covered by Health and Safety laws

Mine workers in Fiji are not covered by Occupational Health and safety Laws

Mine workers in Fiji are not covered by Occupational Health and Safety Laws

Union: Miners not covered

Felix Chaudhary | The Fiji Times | November 26, 2016

THE mining sector is not covered under the country’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation, an issue that the Fiji Trades Union Congress is very concerned about.

FTUC national secretary Felix Anthony said miners had been promised they would have their own OHS laws since 2007, and yet, nothing had been done.

Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Minister Jone Usamate confirmed the mining industry was not covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1996.

Mr Usamate said the Act applied to all workplaces in Fiji except workplaces or operations connected with the Mining Act, Quarries Act, Explosives Act and Petroleum (Exploration and Exploitation) Act.

“The mining industry is not covered under the health and safety at Work Act as this law deals with health and safety in general whereas in mining, there are industry specific characteristics or risks that are specific to it,” he said.

“The competencies required for mine inspectorates are industry specific whilst OHS inspectors have general health and safety competencies and the mining industry operates under stringent risk management systems that are unique to the mining industry.

“I will look into this issue ensuring at all times that the best interests of Fiji as a whole are our priority.”

Mr Anthony said mine employees worked in a dangerous industry.

“The risk of injury and even death is extremely high and there are no OHS laws to govern their workplace,” he said.

“We are very concerned about the working condition of workers in the mining industry and call on the Government to look into the matter with urgency.”

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1 Comment

Filed under Fiji, Human rights

One response to “Mine workers in Fiji not covered by Health and Safety laws

  1. aloosley2013

    This sort of thing always creates a headache. Would not be so bad if the Mines Inspectorate were competent and diligent, they are neither at the moment. They prefer swiping grog with the Chiefs in Bua. Up until the mid 80’s or so all Mines Inspectors were expats (supplied FOC by the Pommies), they were pretty good but not as hard as they should have been. Only one prosecution was levied against EGM as far as I recall. All those who sat in judgement had never seen a Mine in their lives and the proceedings ended in total farce. Caucau Turgabeci (the bowler) was up on some charge or other with a few others. Can’t even remember what it was about. The worst thing that happened to me was that a guy died in the Fine Ore Bin. I should have been charged over that but was let off with a severe warning (not even written down). Just before I came to Vatukoula a guy died in the mill due to a gas inhalation that should never have happened in a month of Sundays. Due to lack of metallurgical staff a geologist was put in charge of the telluride section, which in those days used a lot of dangerous chemicals, OK if used in the corect sequence, but deadly if not. The poor bugger (operator) mixed 2 reagents wrongly which gave off hydrogen sulphide gas, lethal very quickly in closed environments. Obviously he had no idea the gas was dangerous and took his time leaving the area and paid the price. Nothing ever happened over it, the geologist soon left Fiji and I had to take responsibility for the place for a while. Fortuneately the process that caused the problem was changed and eventually stopped altogether.

    _____

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