A general manager of a company has to cover very diverse issues such as finance and accounting, operations, sales, marketing, human resources, and research and development or engineering. Executives sometimes tend to overlook that there is a solid business case also for paying attention to occupational safety and health.
In order to change the mindset at the top of the enterprise, the ILO project brought together for the first time ever 28 general managers of state-owned coal mining enterprises all across Ukraine. Each enterprise manages up to seven mines and employs between 900 and 8000 workers depending on its production capacity. The focus of the seminar was to discuss mine safety from a rights-based approach as well as from a business perspective.
The one-day seminar was jointly organized with the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry in Kyiv on 4 July, 2018. The event was financially supported by the Government of Canada. Participants were briefed on the employers’ responsibilities to ensure occupational safety and health (OSH) in mines, and the positive economic effect of investing in OSH measures. The ILO experts presented the role and responsibilities of employers as defined in the international labour standards in particular ILO Safety and Health in Mines Convention No. 176. Case studies of the costs of mine accidents based on Polish experience were presented. Business cases clearly show that investing in prevention is good for business in the long term. For instance, a research of the ISSA mining shows that every 1 euro invested by the company in prevention could potentially bring a 2.2 euro return. Many of the globally leading companies in mining endorse this approach, however state-owned companies in a transition economy like Ukraine sometimes lack awareness of the value of a preventive OSH culture.
The seminar was received positively by the top executives. “This seminar was a first significant step towards the implementation of a risk-based OSH management system in all mining enterprises by 2020,” said Mr. Igor Yashchenko, Deputy Chief of Department on Labour Protection, Industrial Safety and Civil Protection, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine. On the basis of the success of this event, the ILO project will continue to provide further assistance to the managers, and assist the Ministry in the development and implementation of national standards on OSH risk management systems.