Cheap coal or safety?

Cheap coal or safety?

Last week I wrote about how good it is to be a lean company. This week, I want to elaborate more on that, because I believe that in Turkey we need to be as lean as possible.

A lean company is an organization that reacts quickly, has the ability to self-organize, takes decisions better and more rapidly and lives in the moment. To be lean requires you to empower people in your company and use IT to its fullest. When used properly, IT is a game-changer, and we need that desperately in Turkey.

This week in Karaman there was another mining accident that could have been prevented. In the previous accidents where many workers died, President Tayyip Erdoğan said that death is in the nature of the job miners do. I strongly disagreed and wrote that those deaths could have been prevented, and now I am saying again that the situation in Karaman could have been prevented. I hope that there won’t be any deaths this time and we can say it is not a question of fate but rather simply using technology properly.

When I say "using technology properly" I mean two things: Using better technologies in the job itself and using technology more wisely in management so that mining companies can detect and act on risks much more quickly.

Technology usage in the production process is pretty advanced; we just need to examine what the Germans, Americans and others who value the lives of mining workers use and bring their technologies on board. Unlike in Turkey, mining around the globe is a very well-established business, as it is one of the oldest. Therefore, there are enough production technologies to ensure that workers do not come to any harm. Compared to the fully automated mines of Australia, we are still using the technologies of the 1900s.

The management process is a bit more complicated. Being a lean company is not easy. However, management expert Steve Bell recently came to Turkey to talk about it at an event hosted by the Bilgi Teknolojileri company.

In an exclusive interview, he told me that CEOs should let CIOs be more active in board meetings about important business decisions. Up until today, CIOs have only been seen as people who make sure that things proceed without a problem. But now companies require more agility and have to know their customers and the behavior of their workforce much better; so CEOs need to utilize technology every step of the way.

If Turkish mining companies focus on worker safety first and empower their CIOs to make every decision according to this goal, then we have a chance of ending heart-breaking disasters in this country. If we say that death is in the job description of mining, then we will hear many more stories about mining disasters in Turkey.

It is up to the government to push forward new legislation and make sure that the correct technologies are used. They will have to choose between their own citizens’ safety and cheap coal for a few years.

After the new technologies are fully put in place both in production and management, prices will go down, but we will have to use more expensive coal for the first five years.

So, which road will the government choose to go down? We can only wait and see.