MAC: Mines and Communities

ILO Meeting of Experts to discuss new Code of Practice on coal mine safety

Published by MAC on 2006-05-08

ILO Meeting of Experts to discuss new Code of Practice on coal mine safety

8th May 2006

GENEVA (ILO News) - In an effort to modernize safety and health regulations in underground coal mines, representatives of workers, employers and governments meet here on 8-13 May to discuss a draft Code of Practice (Note 1) for one of the world's most hazardous occupations.

The new draft code would update 20-year-old occupational and safety recommendations, reflecting major developments in underground coal mining that have seen new technologies, investment, training and regulations cut the mine death toll in some countries, especially in the developed world.

Nevertheless the incidence of coal mining fatalities reveals considerable differences between countries. While the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have significantly reduced fatalities, rates in India and China are higher.

The draft code to be discussed by the Meeting reflects the many changes in the industry over the last 20 years - a leaner, multi-skilled workforce and new technologies - and follows a less prescriptive, more systems-oriented approach. It addresses, within a national framework, the responsibilities, duties and rights of the competent authority, the labour inspectorate, employers, workers and their organizations, suppliers, manufacturers and designers, and contractors, and occupational safety and health (OSH) management systems and services and OSH reporting.

The second part of the code deals with the different facilities used and dangers encountered in the production of coal from underground mines - from means of access and egress, roads, haulage and transport, support of roofs and walls, ventilation and lightning to the dangers resulting from coal and other dust, mine fires, inrushes of water, gas or other materials as well as from the use of electricity, machinery and explosives. It also covers transport, competence and training, personal protective equipment (PPE), emergency preparedness, and special protection and hygiene issues.

The practical recommendations of ILO codes of practice are intended for the use of all those, both in the public and private sectors, who have responsibility for safety and health management. Codes of practice are not intended to replace national laws or regulations or accepted standards.

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