Safety and health in mining

Message at the High-level tripartite consultation on the application of ILO Convention 176 on safety and health in mines

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the High-level tripartite consultation on the application of ILO Convention 176 on safety and health in mines, Pasig, Philippines, 28 October 2016

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 28 October 2016
  • Undersecretary Maglunsod of DOLE together with officials from DOLE
  • Distinguished representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
  • Representatives of workers organizations from the mining sector
  • Representatives of employers from ECOP, Chamber of Mines
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat [Good morning to all of you]!
It is my great pleasure to extend my warm greetings to all of you. Thank you for your participation to help ensure safety and health in mining.

Let me thank and congratulate the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for successfully organizing this tripartite consultation under the leadership of Secretary Silvestre Bello III through Undersecretary Maglunsod.

The Philippines ranks as the top five mineral-rich country in the world, second in gold and third in copper resources. Key regions covered by major mining operations include the Cordillera Administrative Region, MIMAROPA, Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Southern Mindanao and CARAGA.

The mining industry, however, confronts risks and challenges ranging from environmental impact and land disputes to social and welfare concerns of affected communities, among others. There are also mining areas, which often become hotspots of conflict.

The government, past and present, has therefore introduced reforms and guidelines for the mining sector to protect the environment and promote responsible mining.

Environmental concerns and effects on the lives of the communities in or around mining areas are important concerns, however, today’s consultation will focus on workers – their health and safety and working conditions in the mining industry, which are equally important concern.

Ensuring the health and safety of all workers, including o 215,000 workers in the mining and quarrying industry is vital.

The Philippine Statistics Authority has recorded cases of occupational injuries in the mining industry. The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions has noted the recorded cases of occupational injuries in the mining industry based on available data covering the period of 2012-2013.

ILO member States represented by workers, employers and government have adopted international labour standards that address the distinct world of work context of mining. This includes the Safety and Health in Mines Convention (No. 176), adopted in 1995. The adoption of this Convention reflects international consensus on minimum global standards for miners covering health and safety concerns covering all types of mining, including surface or sub-surface, small-scale or large scale.

The Philippines was among the countries, which ratified ILO Convention 176. Since the ratification in 1998, the Philippines has taken measures, in law and in practice, to apply the Convention.

I take this opportunity to commend the Government of the Philippines for its continuing effort to engage with the ILO supervisory bodies through its regular reports under Article 22 of the ILO Constitution on the application of the Convention No.176.

We consider this as a sign of commitment to improve the working conditions of miners in the Philippines, ensuring that decent work standards are met.

Mechanisms of the ILO supervisory bodies can be seen as a continuing dialogue with ratifying countries, such as the Philippines, specifically on Articles of the Convention to progressively improve its application. Under ILO Convention 176, these Articles include plans of workings, safe design and construction including provision of equipment, measures and procedures for recording system including names and location of persons who are underground, and right of workers to report accidents, dangerous occurrences and to receive notice.

In 2015, the Philippines’ implementation of ILO Convention 176 was included in the discussions the Committee of the Application of Standards (CAS) during the 104th Session of the International Labor Conference (ILC) in June 2015.

The steps taken by the ILO supervisory bodies are means to assist the country and serves as basis for ILO assistance.

In response to the Philippines’ government’s request, the ILO is providing technical assistance to the Government and social partners to effectively strengthen standards and practices on safety and health in the mining industry.

We are very fortunate to have with us today a full team of ILO specialists covering various dimensions on the application of Convention 176, including international law standards, occupational safety and health, mining sector, workers and employers activities to help identifying concerns and addressing challenges in the implementation.

This further contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals on promoting decent work and inclusive growth under Goal 8 and ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being under Goal 3.

Your contribution to the discussion will be most valuable to find solutions to address challenges. I encourage you to identify areas where ILO assistance is required, including capacity requirements.

We are also interested to hear about mechanisms for collaboration and synergy for monitoring and labour inspection as well as the role of workers and employers. You are national practitioners and experts where action takes place and your voices and views matter.

Let me end by reiterating that the ILO remains ready to assist you in strengthening the implementation of ILO Convention 176. We are all here because of our commitment to ensure decent work for all miners, which includes their safety and health.

Thank you!