Mines exempt from OHS laws

THE mining sector is not included in the Health and Safety Work Act 1996.

Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate said despite this, Government was committed to providing a safe environment for workers.

“The mining sector is currently exempted from the Health and Safety Work Act however, Government regards the lives of all employees as important and there will be Government action to safeguard lives of workers in this sector,” he said.

All underground work at the mine ceased indefinitely last week, with Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya saying a proper audit was needed after the death of a shift supervisor and incidents that resulted in injury to two additional workers.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Trades Union Congress says the audit report on Vatukoula Gold Mines Ltd needs to be discussed with tripartite partners for a wider input on the best way forward.

“Internal audit will allow for more preventative measures and prove what is needed in mining to safeguard workers safety and health,” FTUC assistant national secretary Rouhit Singh said.

Questions sent to Mr Koya on Wednesday regarding the idea mooted by the FTUC remain unanswered when this edition went to press last night.

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