Miner's union wants company negligence to be punishable by law

20.03.2009

The union says there is an urgent need for a law against corporate homicide that can be used to punish companies that put their workers' lives in danger by not establishing adequate health and safety at work systems.

Mexico. Health and safety at work is once more under the spotlight in Mexico after the death of four miners last week, in Lázaro Cárdenas, in the state of Michoacán, and Sabinas, Zacatecas.
 
The mining-metalworking companies responsible are Mittal Steel and Peñoles. The National Miners' and Metalworkers' Union of Mexico (SNTMMSRM), led by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, said that these regrettable deaths "justify the national union's request to the National Congress to punish company negligence."

On Tuesday 10 March, Luis Alberto Santana García, a rigger, was killed. He was a member of Section 274, at Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán and employed by SADCON, Servicios Administrativos de Occidente. Santana was climbing up a ladder alone when the ladder slipped. He fell to the floor and sustained head injuries that led to his death. Workers doing this task should be supervised. 

Two days later, two more workers, Edson Enríquez Martínez, 25 and Gustavo Navarro, a furnace operator, lost their lives. They were employed by CCIndustrial, a subcontractor providing services to Mittal Steel. A supervisor ordered the injection of nitrogen into a pipe to check for possible leaks, but the pipe had not been fully drained, which led a cap on the pipe to fly off, causing the workers to fall a distance of 20 m.

Another miner, Reynaldo Monreal Guerrero, died on Saturday 14 March. He worked for Minera Sabinas, part of the Peñoles company. He was assistant driller and responsible for packing explosives into blast holes to help fragment the rock. The rock he was working on fell on his chest, causing serious injuries, leading to his death a few hours later. Another miner, Rogelio Carrillo Acuña, 21, died in the same way at the same workplace on Monday 2 March.

The union said the companies have a duty to protect the lives of their workers and that it is urgent for them to establish health and safety systems to prevent more deaths happening. Napoleón Gómez Urrutia has called for a law to punish companies for this type of accident, which should not occur in the 21st century because the technology and prevention methods in this area are very advanced.