Objective This study examined the opinions of coal mine workers and managers in relation to safety rules and regulations and safe work procedures in three underground coal mines located in Semnan province in Iran.
Methods Individual interviews were used to find out the opinions and attitudes of workers and managers through the use of a structured questionnaire. Safety staff carried out interviews mainly investigated the level of workers’ awareness and knowledge on rules and regulations and safe work procedures concerning general and specific tasks. Our survey was based on 195 coalmine workers, aged 27–58 years, and 23 managers and supervisors.
Results The study showed that 45% of workers had limited awareness about the general rules and safe work procedures pertaining to mining activities and to their individual tasks. Workers cited fatigue, time saving and the impracticability of rules and regulations as the main causes for ignoring rules and regulations. More than 60% of coal miners stated that they had no opportunity to be involved in making rules and regulations. Managers and supervisors believed that large proportions of accidents and injuries are avoidable as there are written rules and safe practices for many situations and practices. They also commented that in a harsh environment like underground coalmines, risk taking is a common habit. Managers mentioned that reaching production goal is essential for the mine’s survival.
Conclusion We concluded that lack of awareness and knowledge, fatigue, the priority of production pressure, and miners’ problems with rules were the main causal factors for violating and ignoring rules and regulations and that the management should practically demonstrate its commitment to safety and to take measures to improve the awareness and knowledge of workers and involve them in planning rules, regulations and safe work procedures.