TBILISI, DFWatch – According to unofficial information, 13 people died in the work place in 2011 in Georgia.
No official numbers exist for 2012 either, but media reported about a number of fatal incidents in the mining and construction sector. These fatal accidents are only known because the media reported on them.
The Interior Ministry used to work out statistics over deaths in the work place, but midway in 2010 stopped providing such figures.
According to the last figures from the Interior Ministry, in 2009, their numbers show that 403 persons died in the workplace that year, and 193 were injured. 130 died in the first four months of 2010 and 231 injured. There is no full statistics of 2010 year.
Majority of deaths happen in the construction business, many of them because workers fell down from a building. Usually they do not have helmets and safety ropes. The mining sector is also accident prone.
Ferroalloys is one of Georgia’s most important export goods and many people are employed in Tkibuli Shafts and Chiatura mines. Both regions are located in western Georgia.
Georgian Trade Union’s technical inspection describes problems which are common for those work places: Workers don’t have the necessary equipment to assure their safety, and the working environment is generally unsafe. When accidents occur, they are often blamed on the dead workers, when the real cause is the deplorable conditions in the mining sector.
Metallurgists in Georgia speak of bad conditions, long working shifts and unsafe environment.
In 2006, Georgia canceled the labor inspection. This inspection was tasked with preventing danger in various dangerous workplaces, to monitor working conditions and describe problems in the labor sphere through carrying out research and write reports.
Archmshen was another body which conducted monitoring of the situation at construction sites, and checked worker’s equipment and safety at the workplace. This body was also closed down.
In 2011, there was set up a technical and construction inspection instead, but this body has a poorly defined area of responsibility and doesn’t cover the whole country.
When speaking of the problems in labor sphere, Georgia’s Labor Code should be mentioned, which was amended in 2006. It purely defines rules for workers safety. The law defines only few obligations for employers, which frees them from responsibility for accidents. But it also defines very few rights for workers, who are accordingly afraid to lose their jobs and accordingly tend to not complain. They can’t defend their rights.
In light of the level of unemployment in the country, people for example living in the mining discrict Tkibuli chose to risk their lives and work in mine shafts to feed their families rather than sit home in hunger.
The goal of the government while amending the code was to attract foreign investors with good labor environment, but it has exposed workers to horrible conditions.
The majority of deaths in the mining sector are reported in Tkibuli’s Mindeli coal mine. 12 persons died there in 2011. The cause is usually identified as concussions, which is a common thing to happen but difficult to determine whether really happened or not, the technical inspection of the trade union explains.
In January 2011, one mine worker died as a result of an explosion. In March and August, eight workers died. One in October and in November – 2 died also in mines all cases in Tkibuli coal mines.
DF Watch reported several accidents happened in Tkibuli at the end of 2011. http://dfwatch.net/?s=tkibuli
There were also a number of cases of workers falling down at a construction site. Usually the media reports only briefly about such cases, saying that an investigation is launched but the results of the investigation never sees the light in public.