Probe into Apex Mining’s OSH and environmental practices, pushed by workplace safety NGO

February 16, 2024

Workplace safety NGO Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) reiterated its demand for a transparent, thorough, and independent investigation into the Masara landslide in Maco, Davao de Oro.

The group made the urgent appeal as the number of deaths caused by this environmental and occupational safety disaster has reached 92, with 36 still unaccounted for. It specifically called for a comprehensive investigation of Apex Mining’s compliance with occupational health and safety (OHS) standards and regulations.

“There is an urgent need for the government to probe into Apex Mining’s compliance with OSH and environmental standards. Does it have an emergency response preparedness program? How did it implement risk assessment protocols, and what were the measures taken to ensure workers’ safety during adverse weather conditions,” said Nadia De Leon, IOHSAD executive director.

It is unacceptable for Apex Mining to absolve itself of accountability by asserting that the landslide occurred outside its mining operation. Furthermore, their declaration of profit loss amidst this tragedy is callous and disregards the serious human cost of their actions.

“While we acknowledge their participation in rescue efforts, it does not absolve them of responsibility for the loss of lives, destruction of properties, and environmental devastation,” De Leon said.

Mining is considered one of the most dangerous industries, where workers face a range of daily hazards such as airborne dust, noise, vibration, and the operation of heavy machinery. Despite the occupational safety and health (OSH) laws enforced by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the country’s ratification of the International Labor Organization Convention 176 (Safety and Health in Mines Convention), tragic incidents like the Masara landslide still occur.

Significant, pro-people, and pro-environment reforms must be enacted within the Philippine mining industry, especially with a rise in metal use in the coming years. These reforms must prioritize the enforcement of strict OSH standards, halt destructive large-scale mining operations, and ensure the protection of workers’ lives and the environment.

“We stand in solidarity with the victims of the Masara landslide and their families. We will continue to advocate for justice, accountability, safe and healthy workplaces, and environment to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future,” said De Leon.