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Report on mining safety in 2020

19 May 2021

The report “Assessment of occupational safety, mine rescue and general safety in connection with mining and geological activities in 2020” has been published on the website of the State Mining Authority in the “Health and safety in mining” tab.

This periodic publication of the State Mining Authority provides the most important information on hazards in mining plants, accident trends, occupational diseases of miners and natural deaths during work, as well as on the use of liquidated mining plants for tourist, sanatorium and therapeutic purposes, preventive and repressive actions of mining supervision. This document implements Article 166(1)(8) of Act of 9 June 2011 - Geological and Mining Law (Dz. U. [Polish Journal of Laws] of 2020, item 1064, as amended).

Safety in 2020 was compared with data from 2016. In addition to the existing hazards, there was an epidemic threat in mining plants, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 in 2020. The risk related to exposure to infection with SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 was assessed as high, so all available measures to reduce it were applied in mining plants.

The analysis of the total accident rate in mining between 2016 and 2020 shows that after an increase in the accident rate (from 2074 accidents in 2016 to 2326 accidents in 2019) the total number of accidents decreased to 2029 in 2020 and became the lowest in the analysed period.
A downward trend was observed for the total number of fatal and serious accidents between 2016 and 2020 (a decrease from 36 accidents in 2016 to 29 accidents in 2020).

Analysis of the causes of accidents between 2016 and 2020 showed a worrying increase in the percentage of fatal and serious accidents caused by the so-called “human factor” - from 41.7% in 2016 to 89.7% in 2020 (it was 100% in open-cast mining). The increase of the percentage share of accidents caused by the so-called “human factor” from 2016 resulted from changes concerning qualifications in the field of mining and mine rescue, i.e. the so-called deregulation, implemented under Article 17 of 5 August 2015 on amending laws regulating the conditions of access to certain profession (Dz. U. [Polish Journal of Laws] of 2015, item 1505). As a result of deregulation, the role of the director of the district mining office has been limited to certifying that one qualified to perform activities only in supervision of traffic in underground mining plants and in higher-level supervision of operations in underground, strip or open-pit mining plants and in plants performing geological works referred to in Article 86 of the Geological and Mining Law. In other cases, responsibility has been transferred to employers.

These regulations have not worked in practice, as employers do not fulfil their obligations or fulfil them incorrectly, as indicated by the results of inspections carried out by representatives of the mining supervisory authorities. The inspections have revealed an insufficient level of professional knowledge of supervisory staff employed in strip or open-pit mining plants, which often results from the fact that the employer does not know what kind of preparation and professional experience is required to perform those activities. Similarly, employers often do not know how to assess the preparation and professional experience specified in the Geological and Mining Law and in the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of 2 August 2016 on qualifications in mining and mine rescue (Dz. U. [Polish Journal of Laws], item 1229), for those who intend to manage maintenance or supervise higher mining plant operations in a mine or plant, they are obliged to under Article 58(1)(1)(a) of the Geological and Mining Law.

The report can be downloaded on the website of the State Mining Authority:

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