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Poland’s mines claim more lives

26 April, 2022Within a week, Poland’s coal mining region has been the scene of two deadly accidents, claiming the lives of both workers and rescuers. The tragic accidents show the urgent need for safe mining and Poland’s ratification of ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines.

Five people were killed and seven are still missing after an accident at the Pniowek mine on 20 April. Only three days later, an accident at the Zofiowka mine claimed one life and several people are missing.

According to reports, the accidents are believed to have been caused by methane blasts, exploding around 1,000 meters below the surface. Both mines are believed to be owned by Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa SA.

Over recent years, Poland has experienced several accidents relating to mining.

“We urge authorities to carry out a thorough investigation, with the participation of trade unions, and implement measure to avoid similar accidents in the future. It is unacceptable that Polish mineworkers continue to die in coal mining, considering the advances in safety technology and knowledge,”

says IndustriALL mining and health and safety director Glen Mpufane.

“But there is a solution; ratifying and implementing ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines. The Convention provides the organizing space for unions to build a workplace safety culture from the ground up.”

28 April is a day to remember and honour workers who were injured or died in the course of their work. While ILO Convention 176 is key to resolving the challenge of occupational safety and health in the mining industry, and IndustriALL reiterates the call on Poland’s government to ratify the Convention, the expected recognition by the ILO of health and safety as a fundamental principle and right at work, will contribute significantly to efforts to improve health and safety in Poland’s coal mines.