Frequently Asked Questions about DGMS and Mine Accidents
Q.1. What is the role of DGMS relating to safety in mines?
A: The mission of DGMS is to reduce the risk of occupational diseases and injury to persons employed in mines.
Q.2. How does DGMS carry out its mission?
A: In order to fulfil its mission, DGMS performs the following functions:
- Periodic inspections of mines to keep vigil over the status of safety.
- Investigations into accidents, dangerous occurrence and complaints.
- Granting statutory permissions for specific mining operations and laying down precautionary measures while working.
- Developing Safety Legislation and Standards.
- Undertaking safety promotional initiatives through safety campaigns, awareness programmes and workers’ participation in safety management.
Q.3. Then, why do accidents take place in mines?
A: Accident causation is a complex process. But generally these are caused due to Unsafe Acts and Unsafe conditions . A combination of factors at the same moment may lead to accident causing injury or persons may escape without any injury.
Q.4. Should the DGMS not be made to account for the accidents in mines?
A: Working the mines, obtaining mineral and ensuring protection of their Human Resource is primarily the management functions. Management makes necessary provisions for the purpose keeping in view the profitability of operations and statutory provisions in this regard. Just as profits from the operations go to the managements, any consequences in the process including accidents must also be the responsibility of the management.
Q.5. Why DGMS should also not be held responsible for accidents?
A: As an arm of the Ministry of Labour, the role of DGMS is to act as a watch dog to see that the mine management comply with the statutory provisions relating to occupational safety and health in mines. DGMS officers make periodic inspections to make sample checks. Keeping in mind, the limited resources available by way of inspecting officers and associated infrastructure, it is humanely impossible for them to ensure compliance by management at all times and at all work places.
Q.6. If DGMS is not responsible for accidents, then what is the need for having a regulatory agency at all?
A: Whenever DGMS officers, during the course of inspection or enquiry, detect an urgent and immediate danger to life and safety of persons, an order prohibiting work is immediately issued in accordance with the provisions of the Mines Act. Each such order, in effect, prevents an accident. In other cases, whenever, a contravention is noticed, an action is initiated which could be punitive, retributive or corrective in nature. The role of DGMS in mining industry and in ensuring safety of workers is of paramount importance and more so in the context of globalisation of economy.
Q.7. What is the staff strength of DGMS and what is its jurisdiction?
A: The DGMS organisation at the apex level is headed by Director-General based at Dhanbad in the Jharkhand State. He is assisted by seven Deputy Directors-General (DDG) in Mining discipline and one Deputy Director-General in Electrical discipline. For administrative convenience, whole of country is divided into six zones and each zone is headed by a DDG. Each Zone is further sub-divided into 3 or 4 Regions. Each Regional Office is headed by a Director of Mines Safety. Each Director in-charge of a Regional Office is assisted by 2 to 3 Deputy Directors. All technical officers in DGMS are appointed through UPSC and are at least graduate engineers in Mining, Electrical or Mechanical Engineering. At the entry level, each officer also has at least 7 years’ experience of working in the Industry. In addition, officers in Mining Cadre are also required to possess First Class Manager’s Competency Certificate (Post Graduate Statutory qualifications for managing a mine).
The DGMS has a total sanctioned strength of 167 technical officers/Inspecting officers at different levels. Of these, 15 to 20% of posts remain vacant at any given time due to time lag in recruitment etc.
The jurisdiction of DGMS extends to whole of India upto the limits of Territorial waters in all types of mines – coal mines, metalliferous mines, stone quarries and Oil mines (Oil well drilling, exploration and production).