Un resumen de los riesgos laborales en la minería

Un resumen de los riesgos laborales en la minería

Las minas es uno de los lugares de trabajo, sin ningún género de dudas, más peligrosos conocidos por el hombre. La Federación Internacional de Trabajadores de Química, Energía, Minas e Industria estima que 12.000 mineros fallecen cada año, la mitad en China.
25 July 2014

En este artículo se revisan los riesgos físicos, químicos, biológicos, ergonómicos y psicosociales asociados al sector de la industria de la minería, todavía muy importante en muchas partes del mundo, y en donde existe todavía un margen importante para reducir los riesgos, sobre todo de accidentes, problemas relacionados con la ergonomía, el ruido y el control sobre el polvo de carbón y sílice. 
Este es un resumen de dichos riesgos.

Riesgos físicos
Las lesiones traumáticas representan el principal problema y su rango oscila desde los triviales hasta accidentes mortales (caída de rocas, incendios, explosiones, inundaciones, derrumbamiento y electrocución). La aplicación sistemática de técnicas de gestión del riesgo en países desarrollados ha contribuido a reducir de forma sustancial la frecuencia de este tipo de accidentes, aunque son necesarias importantes mejoras para alcanzar los límites tolerables a nivel general.

El ruido, y la sordera subsecuente, han estado de forma omnipresente en la minería. Es generado por las perforadoras, dinamita, corte de materiales, equipos de ventilación, trituradoras, cadena de transporte de los minerales y, finalmente, el procesado. Controlar el ruido ha sido siempre ha sido una tarea muy difícil en este sector.

El calor y la humedad es un importante problema ya que la temperatura del aire aumenta con la profundidad (debido principalmente al gradiente geotérmico y a la mayor presión barométrica). Así, en las profundas minas de oro de Sudáfrica, los golpes de calor de consecuencias fatales han sido siempre un problema importante.

La presión barométrica es elevada en minas profundas (en estos casos se genera un incremento de la temperatura del aire y se reduce la sudoración, lo que genera golpes de calor) y reducida en minas de alta altitud, especialmente en Sudamérica (en estos casos una hipoxia crónica intermitente induce adaptaciones fisiológicas y genera síntomas agudos benignos del mal de la montaña).

La vibración transmitida por martillos neumáticos es la causa o exacerbación de trastornos vertebrales preexistentes.

La exposición solar a la radiación ultravioleta en trabajadores que operan en minas de superficie contribuye a la presencia de cáncer de células escamosas y cáncer de células basales.

Finalmente, la exposición a radón en minas profundas ha incrementado el riesgo de cáncer de pulmón aunque, afortunadamente, gracias al empleo de poderosos equipos de ventilación puede ser controlado.

Riesgos químicos
La sílice cristalina ha sido durante mucho tiempo un serio problema en la minería a causa del riesgo de silicosis que conlleva. La prolongada exposición a dicho polvo origina un patrón obstructivo (tos, expectoración, disnea), que evoluciona posteriormente a fibrosis pulmonar con un patrón restrictivo severo, además de un incremento de la artritis reumatoide, enfermedad renal y riesgo de cáncer de pulmón.

El polvo de carbón ha sido otro serio problema de las minas, causante de neumoconiosis o pulmones negros, que conduce a una enfermedad pulmonar obstructiva crónica que evoluciona posteriormente a fibrosis pulmonar con un patrón restrictivo severo. 

El asbesto ha causado un inmenso legado de enfermedades relacionadas (fibrosis pulmonar, mesotelioma pleural y cáncer de pulmón).

En naciones desarrolladas el riesgo a estos polvos minerales ha sido en gran parte controlado con medidas destinadas a suprimir o disminuir el polvo (uso de equipos de perforación con proyección de agua sobre las rocas, manejo de cabinas cerradas, sistemas de ventilación adecuados y, finalmente, empleo de máscaras de protección respiratoria apropiadas).

La exposición a las partículas de diesel sucede en minas subterráneas a causa de los equipos que se alimentan del mismo, sobre todo en equipos de perforación y transporte. Las partículas de diesel se encuentran clasificadas por la IARC en el grupo 2A como probable carcinógeno humano, especialmente cáncer de pulmón.

Gases como el metano (riesgo de explosiones), dióxido de carbono, monóxido de carbono y dióxido de azufre, todavía permanecen como un serio problema que requiere monitorización.

Riesgos biológicos
El bacilo tuberculoso es un agente concomitante en muchos trabajadores con silicosis, especialmente en África, donde la alta prevalencia de la infección por HIV incrementa el riesgo de tuberculosis por la inmunosupresión que conlleva.

Otro agente infeccioso a tener en cuenta es la legionella, a causa de las torres de refrigeración que son encontradas frecuentemente dentro de las minas (se deben realizar periódicos análisis microbiológicos del agua para detectar dicha contaminación).

El resto de enfermedades infecciosas han disminuido con las mejoras sanitarias y el consiguiente incremento de las medidas de prevención (malaria, dengue, leptospirosis y anquilostomiasis eran, en otro tiempo, comunes).

Riesgos ergonómicos
Si bien la minería se ha vuelto cada vez más mecanizada, existen todavía una considerable cantidad de procesos manuales que son fuente de movimientos traumáticos repetitivos y sobrecargas musculares, especialmente en el área del hombro (y que conducen en numerosas ocasiones a discapacidades laborales prolongadas). La mayoría de las minas operan las 24 horas del día, 7 días a la semana, por lo que el turno de trabajo alternante es muy común. La falta de sueño y la fatiga subsiguiente ha sido objeto de una considerable investigación en la industria, especialmente por los daños cognitivos que ocasiona en los trabajadores -motivo de accidentes- y por el mayor riesgo de cáncer, a causa de la disminución de uno de los más poderosos antioxidantes del organismo, la melatonina.

Riesgos psicosociales
El abuso de drogas y alcohol ha sido un tema difícil de abordar en la minería, aunque ya, en muchos sitios, se realizan análisis de drogas en orina antes de ser contratado el trabajador y tras los accidentes.

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Comments

Ramon Alcivar's picture

exelente tema para concientizar a todos los involucrados en las faenas mineras

Snickers Kinsaraba's picture

Artículo muy interesante acerca de uno de los lugares laborales más peligrosos del mundo, las minas, y los riesgos que trabajar ahí conllevan.
Los mineros, que se enfrentan en su lugar de trabajo a una gran cantidad de riesgos de todo tipo, desde riesgos físicos, químicos... hasta psicológicos o biológicos, deben estar prevenidos y protegidos con los más modernos equipos de protección para evitar correr más riesgos de los que ya corren. Es obligación del encargado o persona al mando informar y dotar a los trabajadores de los equipos de protección necesarios para evitar cualquier tipo de riesgo añadido.
La seguridad en el entorno laboral es lo más importante y es fundamental que sean los propios mineros los que valoren los riesgos a los que se pueden llegar a enfrentar para poder estar prevenidos y protegidos ante cualquier problema que pueda surgir.

Dr. Wilson Sigcho Peñaloza's picture

Es un articulo interesante relacionado al grado de riesgo de las faenas mineras, Lo importante es los programas de selección de personal, capacitación e instrucción de cada unos de los obreros concienciados y empoderados que que la seguridad la realizamos todos, (gerentes,directivos, jefes, administrativos, ingenieros, médicos y obreros)
Y que las empresas tomen conciencia de que la Seguridad es una Inversion y no un Gasto

jaime arrieta gulloso's picture

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Patricia gutierrez's picture

Buenas me gustaría saber cuáles son los pasos a seguir para prevenir las enfermedades que producen
la silice,él polvo de carbón,el asbesto.
En la minería,estoy preparando un trabajo estoy en primer año le agradecería si pudiera ayudarme de ante mano muchas gracias

JUAN TEOFANES HUAMAN ROQUE's picture

buenas, he leído cientos de publicaciones como las de ustedes que hacen ver la realidad de los riesgos que afrontan día tras dìa los mineros, existe jurisprudencias de minería donde hacen saber los daños irreversibles que ocasionan; pero algo increíble sucede el mismo tribunal, el poder judicial, el ministerio pùblico, cuando realizan sus sentencias se olvidad de los peligros y riesgos que ocasiona la minería, y solo se baza en los medios probatorios falsos que presentan las aseguradoras,como Rìmac, Mapfre, Positiva, Invita, Cardif, Onp, Interseguros, Ace, Pacifico, Protecta, insur, para luego declararlo improcedente o infundada la demanda por la peticiòn de enfermedad profesional; aquí se nota la tremenda corrupciòn que existe en beneficiar a las compañías de seguros y no a la clase trabajadora sin embargo los felicito que sigan publicando mas informaciòn acerca de la realidad minera de los propios mineros.

jadberth Diaz's picture

Son de mi interes los temas de seguridad en mineria de carbon especialmente. Muy bueno el articulo aunque poco profundo

WALTER HUAMANI's picture

Es un excelente resumen de los peligros y riesgos en la actividad minera, la cual, de seguro es de gran ayuda para los mineros como mi persona que trabajamos en los túneles; un gran aporte.

Ronaldo  scott's picture

Excelente presentación porque nos hablan de todo lo que ocasionan los accidentes laborales pero también hay una parte que el trabajado no le transmiten estas clases de mensajes no son todos algunos se puede decir con espicificacion.

Bayron Mieles's picture

Muy buen artículo, pero me gustaría leer un poco sobre las explosiones inesperadas en la minería subterránea, ya que hay muy poca información sobre ello.

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