The mines industry should accord high priority to workers’ safety, especially during these times of recession. The medical and accident relief costs that would accrue would be prohibitively high and pose problems when profits are down, said the Director of Mines Safety (Chennai Region) B.P. Ahuja.

He was addressing the valedictory of Mines Safety Week celebrations 2009, organised at Melur in Madurai district on Sunday by the Tirunelveli Zone of Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited (TAMIN) and Tamil Nadu and Kerala Mines Safety Association.

Mr. Ahuja said that while employees should ensure high productivity, especially during these times of recession, the management should refrain from retrenchment citing decreased profits.

“The monsoon has not been good. Our country needs mines and the people employment. Hence, the mines sector has an added responsibility to run the mines safely,” he said. Praising the zone for ensuring zero accidents in the last one year, he said this feat had removed the perception that the mines sector was a hazardous industry.

Speaking earlier, V. Manoharan, General Manager, TAMIN, said the mines industry had a responsibility not only to ensure workers’ safety but also that of the environment. At present, cutting of stones was being done using advanced technology, which minimised pollution to a great extent.

K. Sumanth Babu, Assistant General Manager, said the Indian Bureau of Mines recently incorporated a chapter on “workers health” into the Mining Plan for Better Management Control. He requested the Director of Mines Safety to allocate a separate chapter in the plan specifically calling for appointment of Mines Safety Officials and their duties.

R.T. Mandekar, Deputy Director of Mines Safety (Chennai Region), said many mines still had not enrolled into the mines safety programmes. Efforts should be made to bring them into the programmes.

S.K. Gangopadhyay, also a Deputy Director of Mines Safety (Chennai Region), said many mines were being run without appointment of managers/supervisors. This practice was illegal. This could result in high costs, he pointed out.