Ukraine’s economy is still highly dependent on coal production. The country faces a major occupational safety and health (OSH) challenge in this and other extracting industries, as mining facilities are ageing, and safety systems date back to Soviet times.
Mining is the most hazardous industry in Ukraine, accounting for 18.9 per cent of the country’s work-related accidents in 2017, with 936 people injured and 33 killed.
Problems are compounded by the fact that Ukraine has lost control over part of its territory in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions which used to produce the biggest share of high quality coal.
A group of experts recently visited mines in the Dnipro and Lviv regions to train miners from all over Ukraine on safety and health standards and risk management. The visit was part of a unique ILO training project, which aims at improving the occupational safety and health situation in underground coalmines and the metal-ore and other extractive industries.
A distinctive feature of the training was that it provided a practical session in a mine. The training sessions showed how unevenly the industries have developed, and revealed huge differences in the level of protection of workers.
The first three-days round of the basic mining safety training for the metal-ore and nonmetalliferous enterprises took place in Kryvyi Rih, an industrial city surrounded by ore deposits.
The room where the training was held was packed to capacity, and local television featured the event in prime-time news.
Building a culture of prevention
ILO experts Kenichi Hirose, Wiking Husberg, Alexandra Koteraz and Iryna Peksheva explained the benefits of OSH management systems based on a risk assessment approach. Such systems have been successful in building a culture of prevention in many countries. The idea is to reverse the causal chain of accidents by identifying potential sources of accidents and taking practical measures to avoid future accidents.
On the second day, 30 participants received their first assignment: under the supervision of the trainers they had to identify hazards and assess risks in the Yuvileyna mine, where metal-ore is extracted 1,420 meters below the ground.