TODAYSZAMAN.COM – Work safety expert’s testimony points to major neglect at Soma mine

Work safety expert’s testimony points to major neglect at Soma mineFuat unal AydIn, an occupational safety expert who works for the Soma Coal Mining Company, which operates a mine where at least 301 workers lost their lives in an explosion last week, said in testimony to the Akhisar Public Prosecutor’s Office that he just signed the company’s occupational safety reports without knowing their content, the Vatan daily reported on Wednesday.According to Vatan, AydIn said that although he was employed on paper as an occupational safety professional, he unofficially worked as a ventilation engineer in the Soma mine.

The prosecutor’s office asked AydIn about an expert report that said measurements taken before the blast indicated higher-than-usual carbon monoxide levels. AydIn said he had learned of those measurements at the inquiry, and that he had not been informed of them before the explosion, Vatan reported.

Asked why there was no record of the inspections in March and April, AydIn said he just signs the documents as they come to his desk, according to Vatan.“My signature is on the logbook.

Every month, [chief engineer] Mehmet Efe records the problems and recommendations [on work safety in the mine] in this logbook. I have not been invited to any meeting regarding the [occupational safety] records in the mine.

The papers are put on my desk as written, and I just sign them I just learned now that no inspections were recorded in March and April because Efe had dealt with them, Vatan quoted Aydin as saying.AydIn’s testimony contrasted with statements made by Soma Holding at a press conference on Friday where the company denied allegations of negligence, Vatan reported.

The company admitted that there was no emergency shelter inside the mine but said one had been under construction when the disaster occurred.AydIn has said in his testimony that there had been an emergency shelter in the mine three years ago, but that the company had ordered it to be dismantled due to damage sustained from pressure.

Meanwhile, the testimony of mine employees contradicts statements the company made about the presence of an emergency shelter at the mine, Vatan reported.Soma Coal Mining Company General Manager Ramazan DoIru said in his testimony, according to Vatan, that they had constructed a shelter near where the most of the miners worked but later tore it down when that area of the mine fell into disuse, adding that a new room was being built deeper in the mine.

Vatan reported mine technician Serdar Gunay, however, as saying during his testimony to the prosecutor that there had been an emergency shelter two years ago, but that it was destroyed in a collapse.On May 13, Turkey witnessed its worse mining disaster ever in Soma, a town in the western province of Manisa, when an explosion and subsequent fire led to 301 deaths, mostly caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Soma Coal Mining Company said in a statement on May 14 that the coal mine is regularly inspected, and that the last inspection, carried out in January, found no violations of mining safety regulations. The accident occurred despite measures taken as part of a rigorous inspection process, the company claimed, adding, “An investigation has been launched to find out how the incident occurred.

”Soma Holding’s Operations Manager AkIn elik told journalists at the Friday press conference that “it wouldn’t have mattered if there had been a shelter” He also asked the journalists if they would have run toward the exit or down to seek refuge in a shelter “I would have run up and tried to get out,” he said, suggesting that the trapped miners had caused their own deaths.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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