Malawi Government reviews mining sector safety regulations
…Negligent mine owners to be taken to task
By Wahard Betha
The Malawi government has embarked on the process of reviewing the mining sector safety regulations which were produced in 1981 to come up with new regulations expected to be applied to all mining and prospecting operations.
Mining Inspector for the Department of Mines in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Mphatso Kapokosa, says that the Department has already come up with draft regulations and will engage various stakeholders to get their input.
We would appreciate if stakeholders went through the document containing the revised regulations at their convenience and give us feedback or raise any issues to be considered,
He says in order to ensure availability of the regulations to the workers or any other persons at the operations, the regulations will be made accessible at any mine in different local languages.
Among other provisions, the draft regulations strictly forbids persons from passing through unsafe places in mines unless one is working to make that place safe.
Any mine manager or supervisor allowing the working in the unsafe places is guilty of an offence and liable to an administration fine of K1-million and suspension of any license issued under these regulations,
reads the draft.
It says a mine manager or supervisor of authority who coerces any worker to work in a dangerous area is guilty of an offence and liable to not less than K10-million and two years imprisonment and revocation of his certificate if he is a holder of such.
The regulations say the Commissioner for Mines will be responsible for creation of standards or designation of any existing national or international standard and any employee who contravenes any such standards applicable to him is guilty of an offence.
The draft states that before the commencement of exploration or mining operations, hazards have to be identified and undergo risk assessment which will be approved by the inspectors giving a go ahead of the project.
The safety regulations will be reviewing the risk assessment three months after the start of operations, every 12 months from the start of operations, whenever major changes occur at the operation, when the operation exhibits a pattern of accidents and incidents, when a major accident occurs; or when an Inspector directs.
However, the Contractor holding international certification under these regulations is required to get a Malawi license and failure to do so will be considered to show competence.
The regulations also give the employees the right to openly or anonymously report any hazardous occurrences to the employer and to an inspector to anonymously request and obtain safety and health grounds.
The document is refraining portrayal of negligence by any person by failure to take all necessary and proper precautions to ensure the safety of persons and property, and removal of anything which intends to provide for the health or safety.
It shall be the duty of every employee and any person at a mine; to comply with prescribed safety and health measures; to take reasonable care for their own safety and health and that of other persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work, including the proper care and use of protective clothing, facilities and equipment placed at their disposal for this purpose.
The regulations also give the employee the right to refuse to work where there is a reasonable believe of exposure to risk of harm to the health of the employee.
The mine manager shall take all reasonable means to ensure that the provisions of these regulations are observed and enforced on the mine and any manager who fails to do so shall be guilty of an offence.
The new regulations have also provisions to ensure that the employer provides and maintain suitable and adequate personal protective clothing and appliances to the employees at the mine.
Every employee at a mine, shall use and take proper care of protective clothing, and other health and safety facilities and equipment provided for the protection, health or safety of that employee and other employees.
The regulations obliges the principal employer to also ensure that appropriate first aid equipment, facilities and services are provided at the mine.
Every person who is guilty of negligence in or about a mine or works by which a person is injured or killed is guilty of an offence,
reads the draft.
It says considering how harmful the underground mines are to the young generation, no person below the age of 18 is allowed to work in underground mines.
The regulations will also ensure proper design and construction of plants and proper installation, maintenance or use of the plants.
A person who erects or installs any plant for use at a mine must, so far as is practicable, ensure that it is so erected or installed that persons who properly use the plant are not subjected to any hazard that arises from, or is increased by, the way in which the plant is erected or installed.
Malawi is also reviewing the Mines and Minerals Act (1981) to come up with a new law that is in tandem with modern mining practices.
Mining in Malawi: if you would like to review the draft before mid November 2018, please contact us and we can put you in touch with the Department of Mines.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 66 (October 2018).