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C 115 E/96 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 16.5.

2002

Increasing the responsibility of the relevant departments and setting up OLAF should help to clarify the
overall situation and thus improve recovery rates.

(1) SEC(2000) 2204/3. Communication on action 96 of the White Paper: ‘More effective management of recovery of
unduly paid funds.’.

(2002/C 115 E/100) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2475/01


by Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(5 September 2001)

Subject: Safety and health protection for workers in the mining industry

Council Directive 92/104/EEC (1) of 3 December 1992 on the minimum requirements for improving the
safety and health protection of workers in surface and underground mineral-extracting industries 5
specified in the Annex 5 establishes, in Section II, employers’ obligations to guarantee the safety and
health of workers, as well as health checks.

However, in Portugal a large number of accidents continue to occur at work, causing the loss of eyesight,
limbs, hands and fingers and even death (mainly among workers employed in quarries) and a very large
number of workers suffer from silicosis. The situation is becoming worse with the introduction of new
tools, such as pneumatic drills and machines which create enormous clouds of dust in quarries and tile
factories. Workers also suffer from back problems caused by carrying excessively heavy weights, deafness
caused by noise, and rheumatism, which affects many employees working in excessively damp
environments.

This situation is compounded by inefficiency on the part of the General Labour Inspectorate and a lack of
preventive measures, health diagnostics, research studies or information campaigns.

Can the Commission say whether it is aware of this inefficient application of the Directive and what
measures should be taken to ensure safety and health protection for workers?

(1) OJ L 404, 31.12.1992, p. 10.

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(28 September 2001)

The Commission is not aware of any of the health and safety problems mentioned by the Honourable
Member.

As the Honourable Member knows, it is the task of the Member States to ensure an efficient application of
the rules on health protection of workers in surface and underground mineral-extracting industries. The
problems raised by the Honourable Member should indeed be put to the attention of the national
inspectorate which is responsible for the enforcement of Health and Safety issues in the extractive
industries.

Nevertheless, the Commission will request the Portuguese delegation of the Tripartite Safety and Health
Commission for Mines and other Extractive Industries (1) (Shcmoei) to investigate further the issues raised
by the Honourable Member. Should evidence show that the problems raised have not been given adequate
attention by the Portuguese authorities, the Commission will not hesitate to take appropriate action.

(1) The Shcmoei was created by a Council Decision adopted at the 44th session of the Council of Ministers, held on
July 1957 (OJ 487 of 31.8.1957), and extended to cover all mineral extracting industries on 27 June 1974 (OJ L
185, 9.7.1974).