Significant reduction in pit wall collapse related fatalities – More training to reduce death by falling trees

DPI, GUYANA, Tuesday, January 23, 2018

There has been a significant reduction in pit wall collapse related fatalities in the mining industry and more attention will be placed on reducing tree falling accidents and fatalities in 2018.

Director of Compliance at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Derrick Lawrence, told the Department of Public Information (DPI) in an interview today, that in 2017, only two mining deaths were as a result of pit wall collapse when compared to five in 2016 and 14 in 2015.

Derrick Lawrence, Director of Compliance, Ministry of Natural Resources.

In 2016 the Ministry, through the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), had increased training, monitoring and enforcement activities to curb the high level of fatalities in the industry.

“The GGMC officers have increased their engineering expertise so that as soon as miners begin to climb up into the medium scale operations they are able to be advised in terms of how to design and construct stable pits,” Lawrence said.

The Director said the Guyana School of Mining has also been training miners in several comprehensive courses on safe mining practices, especially in areas where there were high incidences of fatalities.

Additionally, the GGMC has been enforcing occupational health and safety practices in mining operations. “We have a number of mines offices as well as miners and some members of the Corps of Warden all trained in Occupational Health and Safety in the field,” Lawrence pointed out.

The Ministry also had a special inspectors’ manual developed, through the ILO, to guide inspections of mining camps. “We also work in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection and so there is an ongoing policy that focuses on occupational safety and health within the mining districts,” Lawrence noted.

Tree falling incidents

However, the success achieved is being marred by the increase in tree falling accidents and fatalities. Lawrence noted that the sector has recorded an increase in such incidences.

“Sometimes that is a result of Mother Nature at play, some kind of natural disaster but there are other times when that has to do with the lack of scientific ways of clearing the ground before one starts to mine,” he explained.

As recent as Monday, a mining-related death occurred in Mahdia. Lawrence said preliminary reports reaching the Ministry suggests it was as a result of a tree falling.  “I am aware that the GGMC has dispatched a team to investigate the matter properly.  From the initial reports that we have it is not a pit wall failure,” he said.

The GGMC has begun engaging miners to reverse this growing trend. “Handling and felling trees the right way is something that, as people go out prospecting, they really need the guidance of the experts in this matter,” Lawrence said.


By: Tiffny Rhodius


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