IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (Draft 2.0)
Chapter 2.7 Community Health and Safety

Background

Many mining operations are located in areas with weak health and regulatory systems. Responsibly operated mines can play an important part in improving public health, but poor management of impacts can expose local populations to additional health and safety risks.

Both the identification of potential mining-related health and safety impacts, as well as the mitigation of those impacts will be most successfully achieved when undertaken in partnership with local stakeholders such as local community representatives, government officials, health service providers, public health officials, and community development workers, as well as mine workers who live in communities.[1]

Objectives/Intent of this Chapter

To protect and improve the health and safety of individuals, families, and communities affected by mining projects.

Scope of Application

Chapter Relevance:  This chapter is relevant for any mining operations that may have impacts on community health and/or safety. Operating companies may provide evidence that this chapter is not relevant if they can demonstrate that there are no communities that may be affected by their mining activities, or potential mine expansions. The specific provisions related to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (Criteria 2.7.4) are only relevant at operations where the community health and safety risk and impact assessment has identified that HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and/or malaria pose a significant risk to worker and/or community health.

NOTES TO READERS ON MAJOR CHANGES TO THIS CHAPTER:

  • This is a new chapter. It replaces the chapter on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. Previously the provisions related to assessment of risks to community health and safety were located in Chapter 2.9—Obtaining Community Support and Delivering Benefits. Upon review of the requirements, we decided to create a new chapter Community Health and Safety, and merge it with the HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria chapter, as these infectious diseases are community health issues. The community health and safety risk and impact assessment will identify whether or not communities are at risk for these (or other) diseases in relation to mining (e.g., influx of workers may bring these diseases or increase their spread in host or home communities).
  • Not all of the provisions related to HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria have been included in this new chapter.  However, the provisions that were excluded either: 1) are already covered in other chapters (e.g., non-discrimination against works with HIV/AIDS is covered in Chapter 2.1, and 2.2 – see Table of Cross References to Other Chapters, below), or they were more applicable to corporate owners than operating companies.
  • The previous requirements related to community health and safety were based on IFC Performance Standard 4. As with other chapters, we have moved away from simply citing IFC requirements, and have created IRMA-specific requirements that align with IFC but present the information in a more straightforward and auditable manner. IRMA Guidance will provide more information on how IRMA aligns with IFC, as well as cite some of the guidance created by IFC.
  • The means of verification (MOV) have been removed from this version of the draft IRMA Standard. If you would prefer to review and comment on a version of the draft Standard that has the means of verification, you can download a pdf version of the Standard with MOV.
     

Community Health and Safety Requirements

2.7.1.  Health and Safety Risk and Impact Scoping

2.7.1.1.  The operating company shall carry out a scoping exercise to identify significant potential risks and impacts to community health and safety from mining-related activities. At minimum, the following sources of potential risks and impacts to community health and/or safety shall be considered:[2]

a.   General mining operations;

b.   Operation of mine-related equipment or vehicles on public roads;

c.    Operational accidents;

d.   Failure of structural elements such as tailings dams, impoundments, waste rock dumps;

e.   Mining-related impacts on priority ecosystem services;[3]

f.    Mining-related effects on community demographics;

g.   Mining-related impacts on availability of services;[4]

h.   Hazardous materials and substances that may be released as a result of mining-related activities; and

i.     Water-borne, water-based, water-related, and vector-borne diseases, and communicable diseases that could result from project activities.

2.7.1.2.  Scoping shall include an examination of risks and impacts that may occur during the construction, operation and reclamation and closure phases of mine development.

2.7.1.3.  Scoping shall take into consideration differential impacts on vulnerable or susceptible members of affected communities.

2.7.2.  Risk and Impact Evaluation

2.7.2.1.  The operating company shall carry out an evaluation of risks and impacts to: 

a.   Predict the nature, magnitude, extent and duration of the potential risks and impacts identified during scoping;

b.   Evaluate the significance of each impact, to determine whether it is acceptable, requires mitigation, or is unacceptable.

2.7.3.  Risk and Impact Management and Mitigation

2.7.3.1.  The operating company shall document and implement a community health and safety risk management plan that includes:

a.   Actions to be taken to prevent or mitigate identified risks and impacts; and

b.   Monitoring that will be conducted to ensure that mitigation measures remain effective.

2.7.3.2.  Mitigation measures shall prioritize the avoidance of risks and impacts over minimization.

2.7.3.3.  The community health and safety risk management plan shall be updated, as necessary, based on the results of risk and impact monitoring.

2.7.4.  Specific provisions related to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

2.7.4.1.  If the assessment demonstrates a significant risk of community exposure to HIV/AIDS, TB or malaria from mining-related activities, the operating company shall develop, adopt and implement policies, business practices, and targeted initiatives:

a.   In partnership with public health agencies, workers’ organizations and other relevant stakeholders, create and fund initiatives to educate the affected and vulnerable communities about these infections and modes of prevention of them, commensurate with the risks posed by mining;

b.   Operate in an open and transparent manner and be willing to share best practice for the prevention and treatment of these diseases with trade unions, other companies, Civil Society organizations, and policymakers; and

c.    Make information publicly available on its infectious disease mitigation program for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

2.7.4.2.  If the assessment demonstrates a significant risk of community exposure to HIV/AIDS, TB or malaria from mining-related activities, the following prevention and mitigation strategies shall be applied, as appropriate:

a.   In relation to HIV/AIDS, the operating company shall, at minimum:

i.    Provide free, voluntary and confidential HIV testing and counseling for all employees;

ii.    Provide HIV/AIDS treatment for employees where it cannot reasonably be assumed that this will be provided in an effective manner by public or private insurance schemes at an affordable rate;

iii.    Provide access for contractors to education and other preventative programs, and to work with the operating company’s or facility’s contracting companies or others to identify ways for contract workers to access affordable treatment; and

iv.    Work with public health authorities, communities, workers’ organizations and other stakeholders towards ensuring universal access to treatment for dependents of employees and affected community members.

b.   In relation to tuberculosis, the operating company shall, at minimum, provide free and voluntary testing for employees where this is not reasonably likely to be provided by public or private health programs at an affordable rate.

c.    In relation to malaria, the operating company shall, at minimum:

i.    Ensure that company facilities are not breeding environments for malaria carrying mosquitoes.

ii.    Provide protection from infection by malaria-carrying mosquitoes in company facilities and any company-provided housing.  

2.7.5.  Stakeholder Engagement

2.7.5.1.  The operating company shall collaborate with relevant community members and other stakeholders, including workers who live in affected communities, in the scoping of health and safety risks and impacts; the development of prevention or mitigation strategies; the collection of any data needed to inform the health risk and impact assessment process; and the design and implementation of community health and safety monitoring programs.

2.7.6.  Reporting

2.7.6.1.  The operating company shall make information on health risks and impacts and monitoring publicly available.

Notes

There may be infectious diseases other than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria that may present risks for some mining projects and communities (E.g., Ebola).  If significant risks related to other infectious or communicable diseases are identified during the community health and safety risk and impact assessment process, then companies would be expected to take steps to mitigate and monitor their impacts. This chapter highlights HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in particular, because the mining industry has significant exposure to those diseases in some parts of the world, and best practices have been established by mining companies to responsibly minimize their impact in relation to those diseases.[5]

Cross Reference to Other Chapters

 Chapter

 Issues

2.1—Fair Labor and Terms of Work Requirement 2.1.3.1 mandates fair treatment in employment relationships, and prohibits operating companies from making discriminatory employment decisions on the basis of personal characteristics unrelated to inherent job requirements, such as HIV/AIDs status.  
2.2—Occupational Health and Safety The assessment and mitigation of health and safety risks to workers while engaged in mining-related activities is addressed in Chapter 2.2.  However, workers also live in communities that may be affected by mining-related activities, and so they are also included as stakeholders in community health and safety assessment, mitigation and monitoring.

HIV/AIDS testing may be included in worker health surveillance mentioned in 2.2.4.2.  As per 2.2.4.2.b. “Health surveillance shall be carried out in a manner that protects the right to confidentiality of medical information, and is not used in a manner prejudicial to workers’ interests.”
2.3—Emergency Preparedness and Response Mitigation measures related to community health and safety may be incorporated into the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) developed as per Chapter 2.3.  For example, if risks related to particular hazards such as chemicals transportation accidents or breaches of tailings impoundments are identified, there may be the need to incorporate into the ERP appropriate methods to alert and possibly evacuate community members as quickly and safely as possible.
2.9—Community and Stakeholder Engagement Stakeholder engagement in community health and safety assessment, mitigation and monitoring must comply with the general stakeholder engagement requirements in Chapter 2.9.  In particular, it may be important for some capacity building to occur, to ensure that community members can engage in the risk assessment process, including development of mitigation and monitoring, in a meaningful way. (See requirement 2.8.3.1.)
4.1—Environmental and Social Impact Assessment The community health and safety risk and impact assessment does not necessary have to be a standalone assessment. It may be carried out as part of the ESIA, as long as the elements listed in this chapter were included in that assessment.

 

Endnotes

1. ICMM. Good Practice Guidance on Health Impact Assessment. p. 32.

2. More information on these issues will be provided in IRMA Guidance.

3. For example, land use changes or the loss of natural buffer areas such as wetlands, mangroves, and upland forests that mitigate the effects of natural hazards such as flooding, landslides, and fire, may result in increased vulnerability and community safety-related risks and impacts; or the diminution or degradation of freshwater may result in health-related risks and impacts. (IFC. 2012. Performance Standard 2 – Community Health, Safety and Security, Para. 8)

4. For example, this may include an influx of migrant workers, which could put pressure on existing water and sewage systems, which may have an affect on community health.

5. International Council on Mining and Metals.  “HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

 

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