According to a study conducted to evaluate the causes and contributing factors of subpar working conditions, occupational safety, and health in the mining industry, of the 13 different types of hazards evaluated, six (or 46% of them) have a high level of risk, and seven (or 54% of them) have a medium level of risk. The Rwanda Extractive Industry Workers Union (REWU) carried out the study.
According to the study report, high-risk hazards that require extra care include falling rock at the work site, landslides, the collapse of the work site, stripping and slipping, heavy loads, awkward positions, working under pressure, dust, noise, and darkness.
The research findings indicate that, with respect to compliance status, of the 31 legal requirements evaluated, six, or 1ed9 percent, have a high level of compliance, ten, or 32%, have a medium level of compliance, and the remainder, or 48%, have a low level of compliance.
According to the research, the industry as a whole has an average compliance rate of 49.5%, placing it in the low compliance category.
The availability of gender-specific restrooms, a pathway for wheelchairs, guardrails, and other equipment that can help people with disabilities navigate the law, and the presence of an emergency plan that is in place and routinely updated in light of potential workplace hazards are among the legal requirements with low levels of compliance.
These also include conducting occupational safety and health risk assessments at least once a year, providing employees with training on occupational health and safety issues at work, paying employees’ social security contributions to Rwanda’s social security body, and providing employees with annual medical examinations.
The availability of an occupational safety and health policy, the issuance of written employment contracts to all employees who have worked for more than ninety (90) consecutive days in an organization, the presence of a trained occupational safety and health committee, the keeping of a register for the recording of occupational injuries, the recording and reporting of occupational hazards, diseases, and deaths to the RSSB, and labor inspection all exhibit extremely low levels of compliance.
Low levels of compliance are also seen in the payment of all employee salaries through banks or other reputable financial institutions, the availability of fire prevention and fighting techniques, and the availability of a written document outlining protective mechanisms in a language that is easy for employees to understand.
The study has warned that “people exposed to excessive dust for prolonged periods of time may suffer from permanent lung diseases, such as silicosis,” and it suggests that wet drilling techniques and water sprays be used during mineral extraction, loading, and crushing in order to limit or suppress the dust.
It also included a warning that prolonged or frequent exposure to loud noises can damage hearing. One of the risks mentioned was heat stress.
It should be easy for employees to get water or other suitable beverages that promote rehydration.
“The employer must make sure that there is adequate ventilation installed to shield employees from breathing in hazardous mining dust.”
The report also suggested a method to manage any geological collapse that might occur while the project was underway, guard against flooding or water leaks, and guarantee lighting so that darkness wouldn’t fall.
“Working places should have accessible access to adequate restroom facilities.” An increase in the quantity of work-related injuries
In many nations, mining remains the industry with the highest fatality rates within the formal economy.
According to RSSB data, there was a rise in occupational injuries in Rwanda, with 754 reported in the 2017–2018 fiscal year and 1,467 reported in the 2022–2023 fiscal year. Consequently, in just five years, the benefits paid have doubled.