Safety at coal mines comes under scrutiny

VietNamNet Bridge – Up to 15 serious labour safety violations at coal mines in northern Quang Ninh Province were reported in the first nine months of this year, leaving 18 people dead and injuring dozens more, Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper reported.

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Up to 15 serious labour safety violations at coal mines in northern Quang Ninh Province were reported in the first nine months of this year, leaving 18 people dead and injuring dozens more, Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper reported. — Photo laodong.com.vn    

In August alone, there were five incidents, leaving six miners dead.

The accidents are on the rise with an increase of two cases and three deaths compared to the same period last year.

Quang Ninh Province currently has 30 coal mining units with hundreds of mines and about 40,000 coal miners working. With increasing areas of exploitation and tougher mining conditions, ensuring labour safety remains a big challenge for the local industry.

According to the provincial Department of Labour, Social Invalids and Society, the main reason for serious coal mine accidents was coal mine collapses and water breaking out, resulting in rocks and soil falling and trapping workers.

Mine collapses and water incidents cause about 45 per cent of accidents annually.

Last Friday, in one of the latest accidents in the province, it took more than 20 hours to retrieve the body of a worker, Do Minh Hai, who died after a coal mine collapsed in Cam Pha City.

A day later, a truck driver carrying soil and rocks to Cao Son Company coal mine crashed and died. The driver lost control of the electric-truck when it experienced a power cut.

As many as 14 workers were injured by an explosion inside a coal mine in Cam Pha City in August.

Others accidents, reportedly due to technical failures and violations, have raised questions about coal sector safety, the responsibilities of company managers and safety awareness of workers.

Le Van Su, chief investigator of the department said that coal mining accidents can occur randomly. A series of accidents might happen one after another within one month or even a few days.

The reasons for these accidents come from a lack of professional skills, workers’ experience and a lack of supervision of employers, he said.

According to a Vinacomin investigation, most companies do not control safety indicators. Safety alarm systems do not work and labour safety in special working conditions underground have not been ensured.

Coal companies have made large investments in work safety. The Viet Nam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), the largest corporation of this kind with 42 units, spent more than VND461 billion (US$20.5million) on labour safety in the first half of this year.

Nguyen Xuan Thuy, office chief of Vang Danh coal company under Vinacomin affirmed that labour safety is a top priority.

“Every year, we conduct two labour safety training days and two health examinations for workers,” he said. “The company invests dozens of billions of dong on air warning systems, fire prevention and fighting alarm or labour safety clothes.”

        
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