West Africa: First Aid training for small scale miners in Ghana

Over 1 million people are engaged in small scale mining of gold, diamond and quarry industries in Ghana. In the absence of safety plans for operations at these mines, Solidaridad West Africa has provided first aid training to local miners to attain Fairtrade and Fairmined certification status.

The first group of 37 miners, selected from about 900 miners from three mines in Ghana recently underwent first aid training sessions. The training was done in collaboration with the Ghana Red Cross.

Wilbert Brentum, Programme Manager Sustainable Gold of Solidaridad West Africa, says beneficiaries from this training will be used to form the core of the emergency response team at their respective mines. “We strive to help miners to avoid accidents on their mines as much as possible through safety training in a proactive way. We train the miners in First Aid for when accidents occur and before the injured are taken to hospital.”

Emergency preparedness and early response to accidents is important in the mining industry. Against this background Solidaridad’s goal is to ensure that small scale miners live and work safely in Ghana and attain fairtrade and fairmined certification status.

Safety initiatives

Brentum explains that participants for the training were drawn from three artisanal small scale mining organisations at Tarkwa in the western region, which are Dakete Small-scale Mining Company, Kyereyiaman Cooperative and the Nana Yefri Mining Group. These mining companies have signed contracts with Solidaridad to go through the certification process.

“We have supplied a total of 150 miners from these mining groups with set of Personal Protective Equipment with safety boots, helmets, rubber boots, hand gloves, nose mask, ear plugs, reflectors and goggles to be used on the mines,” says Brentum. He further points out that mine management do not have safety plans and with the assistance of experts, Solidaridad will develop a safety standard for local operations and assist with safety plans.

Ghana mining sector

Hans Perk, Managing Director of Solidaridad West Africa, says small scale mining is a dangerous business not only for the mines but also for the environment and surrounding communities. “Numerous miners die every year as an effect of unsafe mining shafts and flooding. To set an example on how small scale mining can be both responsible and profitable a number of progressive leaders in Ghana have taken up the challenge to work with us according to the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard.”

According to Ghana’s Mining Portal (online) the mining sector accounts for about 7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and mineral exports make up 42% of the total merchandise exports. Solidaridad’s aim is to supply a further 1500 miners in five mining groups with Personal Protective Equipment. More training is also in the pipeline to ensure at least 30 First Aid trained miners on each mine site by the end of the year.