A study prepared by the Chamber of Mining Engineers (MMO) for the year 2011 revealed that in the course of 86 mine accidents 77 miners and two mining engineers died. 117 workers were injured. According to the findings of the MMO, 62 of these occupational accidents happened in underground mines and 24 accidents occurred in the surface production.
The MMO is part of the The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB). MMO President Mehmet Torun assessed the results of the study for bianet. He announced that an average of 80.5 persons per year died in mining accidents during the pasts four years. He underlined that this average figure could be even higher since his organization did not have access to the results of the entire number of accidents that happened during that period.
Torun added, "Scientific data suggests that 99 percent of all work-related accidents could have been prevented. It is a well known fact that occupational accidents are not fate but can be prevented by applying engineering science and technology".
"Knowledge and information lost"
In Torun's opinion, privatization and subcontracting as introduced after the military coup in 1980 lead to the shrinking of the public mining sector and this in turn caused a loss of accumulated mining knowledge obtained over the years.
Torun said that the reason for an increased number of accidents was the fact that institutions responsible for production, knowledge and experience left the places to technically inadequate, inexperienced and unspecialized persons and companies. According to Torun, insufficiently trained people were put into expert positions and corruption within the companies increased.
Recommendations of the MMO
The MMO suggested preventing a further increase of mining accidents by putting an end to privatization and subcontracting in order to abandon work based on primary profits and cheap labour force. Torun listed a number of recommendations:
* In order to prevent accidents, scientific and technical investments should be made and obstacles before a unionization of workers should be removed. Work life as well as the employees' social and economic life should improve.
* Control mechanisms should be strengthened in according amendments of legal regulations.
* The staff has to be supported by mining engineers in order to conduct the necessary audits by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Recourses.
* A national emergency plan and risk maps of the sector should be worked out and audits should be conducted accordingly.
* A law on occupational health and safety should urgently be issued by taking into account the views of the TMMOB.
* All components of the sector, professional chambers and participants of universities should meet at the Mining Council as soon as possible under the coordination of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources in order to work out national mining policies and work on the prevention of occupational accidents in particular.
* A Ministry of Mining should be established and the sector should receive the amount of attention it deserves. (EKN/VK)