Kangra Coal Safety Lead, Michael Madonsela

As of 5 March 2021, Kangra had recorded over 2.5 million fatality-free shifts and is on course to achieve 3 million fatality-free shifts during the course of the year, says Kangra Safety Lead, Michael Madonsela.

“Through our mandatory daily safety briefings, Visible Felt Leadership (VFL) programmes and monthly health, safety, security, community and environmental evaluations of safety performance, and focusing on the health and safety of all colleagues, we have achieved this milestone,” he explains.

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Michael notes that from a health and safety perspective, Kangra did very well under care and maintenance.

“It was a challenging time, as we have never been on care and maintenance before. It was a learning experience for the colleagues who stayed behind to keep the mine maintained. To keep the mine operational, it was a bit tough in terms of ensuring that they still adhered to safety standards that were in place before the shutdown and to ensure that their safety came first.”

He says that making sure that everyone was in compliance with COVID-19 protocols was the biggest challenge, not just for the care and maintenance team, but even for those who weren’t at the mine.

“When lockdown started on the 27th of March 2020 no one knew what to expect. It was an entirely new experience and very scary at times with people losing loved ones to the disease.”

Kangra staff awaiting screening and medical check-ups on their return to work

However, Michael points out that the health guidelines and protocols put in place by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on how to operate during COVID-19 have been crucial to protecting lives and enabling mines to restart operations.

“It’s been a steep learning curve for all of us. With colleagues returning we have been doing extensive screening and health induction medicals to assess colleagues’ health and fitness to return to work. The new protocols include the mandate that everyone needs to wear a mask at all times, sanitize, and keep their 1.5-meter distance wherever possible,” Michael highlights.

He adds that if they feel any symptoms while at the mine, they need to inform the clinic immediately and will be assessed to establish if they need to be quarantined, sent for testing, or for further medical examination offsite.

Michael stresses all staff members need to remember that adhering to COVID-19 regulations does not start nor end at the mine gate.

“Just as it’s crucial to be safety conscious at work, we all need to be safety orientated on returning home. Colleagues need to keep up their guard at home and in the communities, they reside, to mitigate their risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others in line with our aim of achieving zero harm to all,” he states.