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Enhancing the well-being of miners

June 2011

The main aim of a comprehensive, three-year Finnish mining occupational health and safety (OSH) project was to improve safety, security and cooperation and have a direct positive impact on occupational well-being. Information was gathered on successful and well-functioning safety practices and made available to all mining companies in Finland. The collaborative project also developed new tools for evaluating and developing OSH practices in mines.

The increase in world market prices of metals and minerals can be seen today in the strong growth of the mining industry in Finland. The mining and metallurgy industry employs about 20,000 people, making the country one of the biggest producers of metals and industrial minerals in the European Union. The opening of new mines and the ageing of mining workers and experts has made it essential to pay attention to well-being and safety issues.

About the occupational health and safety project

A major Finnish occupational health and safety (OSH) project, Safety and security for enhancing well-being in mining work, carried out between June 2008 and January 2010, sought to improve safety and security, and cooperation, so as to make production in mines safer and smoother, and to have direct positive impacts on occupational well-being in these shared workplaces. The secondary aim was to develop a new tool for evaluating and enhancing OSH practices in mines. The resulting SME Risk Management Toolkit provides a wealth of information and many tools for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) interested in risk management.

The nationwide project was a collaboration between the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, six Finnish mines and the security consultants Nordic Protection Oy. The project was funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes) as part of its Workplace Development Programme.


The project included an extensive mining safety survey involving 436 respondents which examined:

Those responsible for the management and safety of the mines were also interviewed.

Main achievements

Essential aspects that emerged in the mining safety survey included staff attitudes towards safety, and fire and rescue activities. The safety survey (response rate 58%) highlighted the overall situation of mining safety and staff preparedness to act in various hazardous situations.

All mines were found to comply with Finnish legislation.

The safety reviews and surveys helped to identify the most important development needs of each mine. For example, rescue operations and safety attitudes were revealed as targets for further development.

Development training for the staff in the mines was provided in five areas:

Two-day training sessions were organised in four mines. Rescue drills in particular proved a good method for disseminating information to the whole staff. The drills also provided a practice test in technical capacities, staff action, action of the rescue teams, and cooperation with local rescue services.

To develop safety and rescue activities, the project produced a new safety plan model and instructions for rescue drills in subterranean facilities.

The project also resulted in the launching in March 2011 of a development programme for mining rescue activities. The Mine Rescue Programme involves four mining companies in the first phase.

MINER matrix

A new three-level matrix (the MINER matrix) was developed for the assessment of safety and security in the mining sector. The matrix is based on the extensive nationwide mining safety survey, structured interviews and expert knowledge of best practices. Finnish legislation was also taken into account.

MINER matrix: Safety and security assessment in the mining sector

Occupational safety management

Safety skills

Well-being at work and health

Safety of work environment

Shared workplace

Good practice

Responsibilities in safety are clearly defined. Legal minimum safety level is executed.

Safety is an essential part of proficiency. Orientation for safety practices. Continuous learning at work.

Occupational health service is organised. Activities promote working ability. Sick leave and turnover follow up.

Hazards at work are identified. Safety is used as a selection criterion for new machines and is part of operational planning.

Occasional OSH contracts between a mining company and its subcontractors. Occasional monitoring of safety.

High standard practice

Safety is a part of a management system and managers take the lead in good safety practices. Sanction system for dereliction of safety duties.

Person's competence chart includes safety. Orientation system for new personnel includes safety. Supervisor training: safety skills are followed up.

Proactive occupational health service. Working ability cooperates with other operations inside the company. Threats to working ability are discussed early on.

Proactive risk management. Requirements for safety work are created in advance. Guidelines for dangerous work tasks.

Contracts between a mining company and subcontractors includes OSH. Safety development between a mining company and a subcontractor.


Safety in a management system is evaluated regularly and management participates in the evaluation. Behaviour-based safety training.

Competence chart of the company includes safety and development of competences based on strategy. Orientation system gets ideas from new personnel. Supervisors are chosen on the basis of their safety attitudes and skills.

Occupational health service participates in operation development. Well-being at work is a competitive advantage. Healthy lifestyle is rewarded.

Large-scale development programmes are conducted based on risk assessment. Safety initiatives are rewarded.

Similar OSH requirements for all subcontractors. Safety development between subcontractors.


  1. Anttonen, H. and Räsänen, T. (eds.), Well-being at work: New innovations and good practices, Helsinki, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, 2008.
  2. Junttila, S., Räisänen, V., Vorne, J. and Kortejärvi, P., MainaRI-hanke: Kaivosten kokonaisturvallisuus osana työhyvinvoinnin kehittämistä [Safety and security for enhancing well-being in mining work], Helsinki, Tekes, 2010.
  3. Liuhamo, M. and Mäkelä, T., Raksakymppi, Helsinki, Centre for Occupational Safety, 2004.
  4. Liuhamo, M. and Santonen, T., Turvallisuuskymppi, Helsinki, Centre for Occupational Safety, 2001.
  5. Irja Laamanen, Sakari Junttila, Venla Räisänen, Jarmo Vorne, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and Pertti Kortejärvi, Institute for Management and Technological Training

Enhancing the well-being of miners
Irja Laamanen, Sakari Junttila, Venla Räisänen, Jarmo Vorne, Pertti Kortejärvi
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and Institute for Management and Technological Training
20 May 2011