Occupational health & safety

Occupational health & safety is an important issue in mining and related sectors. In 2019, ICMM member companies alone recorded 7,771 occupational injuries.

While in 2019 occupational fatalities in the mining sector increased significantly due to the Brumadinho dam collapse, in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic led to many deaths in the industry. Peru recorded over 4000 infections reported by only eight mining companies. Chile’s CODELCO registered over 3000 cases and nine deaths. In Brazil, 61 COVID-related deaths and over 1600 cases were were reported for a Vale site in Parauapebas.

Mining companies have implemented safety protocols and exploring opportunities for remote work. The ILO has published the questionnaire COVID-19 and mining – control and prevention list (Spanish) to help managers and workers monitor compliance with safety protocols.

Brazil, Uruguay and Peru have ratified the ILO Convention 176 - Safety and Health in Mines Convention.

Since 2018, companies can implement ISO 45001, the international standard that specifies requirements for an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system.

Specially in artisanal and small-scale (ASM) gold mining, the usage of mercury is a danger not just to the environment but also to the health of miners. In August of 2017 the Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into force, an international treaty intended to protect people and the environment from harmful exposure to mercury. The World Health Organization has created 5 guidance documents regarding mercury and health in the context of the Minamata Convention, including a step-by-step guide for developing a public healthy strategy.

The European Union, a majority of its Member States and all seven Latin American countries featured on this platform have ratified the Minamata convention.