Safety and environmental hazard investigation of small scale mining in Benguet

Author(s): Jinky Leilanie Lu

The study looks into the safety and environmental hazards in small scale mining in Benguet, Philippines which is one of the largest mining areas in the country.Questionnaire-guided interviews and work analysis observation tool coveringmining practices and risk exposures ofminerswere conducted. Results of the study showed that wearing of proper protective equipment among the minerswas not observed. Unsafe conditionswere also identified such as risk of fall during erection and dismantling of scaffolds, guard rails were not provided in scaffoldings, manual extraction of underground ores, use of explosives, poor visibility in looking for ores to take out to surface, exposure to noise from explosives, and to dust from the demolished structures. There was no proper ventilation for chemical exposures.Wastes were drained into soil or ground and/or rivers and streams. Themost common health problems among miners were hypertension (62%), followed by hypertensive cardiovascular disease due to left wall ischemia (14%). Health injuries of the respondents noted were due to accidents such as secondary blasting, and stone crushing. Health symptoms such as headache, dermatitis, and peripheral neuropathy were noted and these can be considered as manifestations of chronic cyanide poisoning, further, aggravated by improper use of protective equipments. There is a need to establish programs on miners’ occupational and environmental health and safety.

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