HSE International

MRS Training & Rescue – Safe in our hands

HSE International presents an exclusive interview with confined space training experts MRS Training & Rescue. For over 100 years, MRS Training & Rescue …

SACCS – Safe Access & Control of Confined Spaces

Billy Gundry, Grad IOSH MCMI, MRS Training & Rescue, discusses regulations for working in confined spaces and a new confined space management App – SACCS …

MRS Training & Rescue: Managing Confined Spaces

In this issue, Michael Lloyd, Consultant for MRS Training & Rescue, speaks to HSE International about entering and working in confined spaces safely…

MRS Training & Rescue: Risk Management

Producing and effectively managing Critical Hazard Indicators gives an indication that critical elements of a risk control are being carried out proactively…

China: At least 67 workers killed in power station platform collapse

Industrial accidents are common in China, whose leaders have vowed to improve workplace safety. However, the enforcement of safety standards is often lax…

Fatal accident at Santacruz Rosario Mine in Mexico

Santacruz Silver Mining Ltd has regrettably reported a fatal accident at its Rosario Mine in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on November 9th…

MRS Training & Rescue: Safe Work in Confined Spaces

When work must definitely be carried out in a confined space, a safe system of work which identifies hazards, risks and control measures must be created…

The Breathing apparatus that Mines Rescue teams rely on

In the difficult conditions encountered in underground mines, the BG4 is used effectively by Mines Rescue teams around the world.

Over 100 Miners Rescued From Siberian Mine After Underground Fire

Initial reports said more than 50 of the miners working at the time of the accident were trapped below the surface.

A toast for our miners

Neal Stone

Director of policy and standards

British Safety Council

December 2015 marked the closure of Britain’s last deep coal mine – Kellingley Colliery near Castleford in North Yorkshire. I read the news with a mixture of nostalgia remembering the importance of our once great coal mining industry to Britain, puzzlement as to how our future energy needs are going to be met without domestic coal production while not forgetting the immeasurable harm suffered by workers and their families over the past 200 years, including fatal and major injury and life ending diseases as result of the work.

At its peak Kellingley, “Big K”, employed over 2,000 miners, being the biggest deep mine in Europe. At the time of closure employee numbers were down to 450. The closure was not because of depleted coal stocks but rather due to continuing decline and eventual closure of Britain’s remaining coal-fired power stations. Eggborough and Ferrybridge power stations – large consumers of Kellingley coal – are both due to close in 2016. Nearby Drax power station is now able to source the coal it needs more competitively from the open market.

In an extensive piece titled “Kellingley Colliery: the end of the mine”, published on 12 December, The Daily Telegraph featured interviews with many workers including the colliery manager, miners and electrical engineers. The abiding memory reading their reflections on the closure is of the camaraderie among the workforce and the tough working conditions.

Miner Graham Whiteford, age 56, said: “It has been a hard life working underground for 39 years. Some of the conditions you work in – loads of dust, nearly 100 per cent humidity, the heat (over 30°C) – are really bad at times. But the lads you work with get you through it. There’s a lot of humour underground – which there’s got to be.”

Just over 30 years ago, a year after the ending of the miners’ strike, I moved to work in a junior role as an industrial relations officer at the headquarters of Acas, the public advisory and conciliation service. My regard for mineworkers, some 250,000 working in the industry at that time, was put firmly into perspective by my boss and mentor.

Why, he asked, would we not want to avoid sending workers deep underground to work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions? To him, coal mining was not the hallmark of an advanced industrial society but rather an industry crying out for increased mechanisation to eliminate the risk of death, injury and occupational disease.

I will not let nostalgia rule my head. Coal accounted for 29% of UK energy production in 2010. By 2025 there will be no coal-fired power stations operating in the UK. The much talked about need for new technology to capture carbon emissions is sadly, mostly talk, partly because of the high cost of developing such technology and and also because of a lack of informed thinking by those who set the rules as to what we must do to move to a greener economy. Whether coal should or could form a central plank of UK energy policy going forward is a discussion for another time.

What we must not lose sight of is our history. The contribution of coal to industrial growth and economic prosperity has come at a high price with many thousands of fatal injuries and deaths resulting from occupational disease.

The industry continues to kill, injure and harm a large number of workers across the world. It is estimated that over 500 coal miners died in China in 2015 (931 in 2014). In 2010 in the United States 29 coal miners were killed in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia.

The point is this. Coal production will continue to help meet energy demands across the globe for the foreseeable future. Energy powers the industries that supply the food we eat and the clothes on our back. Although we no longer have a deep mining industry we have a responsibility to voice our concerns over the appalling conditions in which many coal miners are working in poorly regulated coal mines across the globe to produce the goods and services we demand.

The Mining Industry Safety Leadership Group’s Sector Strategy 2014-17 is available at: 
http://www.hse.gov.uk/mining/strategy-2014-17.pdf

 

Original Source: https://sm.britsafe.org/toast-our-miners#sthash.V8IB8rhf.dpuf