Kangra Coal
Chief Safety Officer Sabelo Ngema leads the charge in maintaining ZAC’s high safety standards

Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) is committed to achieving the goal Zero Harm, which aims to ensure that all workers return home to their loved ones from work safe, unharmed and healthy every day.

ZAC Chief Safety Officer Sabelo Ngema – who has been with ZAC for over 32 years – is the person responsible for achieving this goal. As the Chief Safety Officer, he has to ensure the compliance and enforcement of the Mine Health and Safety Act, which entails ensuring that workers are trained and understand the risks of working in a mine as well as making them aware of different ways to mitigate those risks.

“We hold mandatory daily (Tool Box Talks), a weekly Visible Felt Leadership (VFL) meeting and monthly Safety Committee meetings (Health, Safety, Security, Community and Environmental) evaluations of safety performance, paying special attention to the safety of our 1 500 employees in order to encourage them to make sure that they are working safely at all times. This is extremely important to prevent work-related injuries from occurring.”

He says that ZAC takes tremendous pride in having completed 3 888 Fatality Free Production Shifts (FFPS) (as at 4 October 2019) which equates to 2 659 203 Fatality Free operating working hours and is on target to reach 4 000 FFPS by the end of December 2019.

Sabelo notes that the mine’s Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) has a 0.00 on a rolling average over the past three months and 0.30 Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) over the past 12 months on a rolling average basis – using two million operating hours measurement. He points out that, “ZAC strictly enforces a zero-tolerance policy for unsafe acts and working conditions”.

“This is a massive achievement for the company because it reflects our high working standards and commitment to safety by preventing work injuries,” Sabelo states.

Employees are encouraged to report any incidents they may encounter by filling out a ‘Near-Miss’ report so that the company can act on these incidents and analyse the near-misses reported.

There weekly discussions with mine management to talk about the VFL programme, which is a ZAC initiative that seeks to, improve safety performances by engaging with people in the working area and learning about their needs and concerns.

Other safety initiatives include monthly safety topics and a weekly safety bulletin, highlighting any near-miss reports. The function of the safety bulletin is to indicate any incidents that may have occurred during that week and provides a description of the incidents as well as their severity and also includes a key learnings bulletin.

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The awareness bulletin serves as a reminder for employees to follow ZAC ‘Take 5’ programme, which outlines how to make sure that the area that they are working in, is safe and that they are using the right tools.

When asked about how the mine maintains its safety standards, Sabelo pointed out that, Mine Safety Officers carry out periodical inspections under risk assessment categories.

These schedules are categorised into 30, 45- and 90-day areas which they need to cover in their reports. The 30-day areas are regarded as high risk, such as working underground sections, while conversely working in the main office is considered a much lower risk and would be categorised under the 90-day area inspections.

Sabelo reveals that ZAC’s Safety Department in conjunction with the Environmental Department is planning a campaign to raise awareness at the local schools on the dangers of the summer time season. These include drowning, snake bites, dangers of being struck by lightning, fishing in the mine dams, risks associated with entering the mine premises and climbing or riding on coal trucks while they are moving. “Brothers and Sisters Keepers – we need to work together to keep everyone safe,” he emphasises.

In conclusion Sabelo states: “There is nothing more important than ensuring the safety of all employees, including contractors, to ensure they return home safe and at the end of each working day.”

ZAC TAKE 5 SAFETY CHECK LIST

  • Am I physically and mentally fit for work?
  • Did I do a physical inspection of my work place?
  • Do I have the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the job?
  • Have I inspected my tools and equipment and found them in order?
  • Did I identify all the hazards that can hurt me?
  • Am I trained and authorise to do the task and/or to operate?
  • Am I sure it is safe proceed to work?

If the Answer is Yes to all of the above questions you can continue to work Safely. If not, consult your supervisor and re-do your ZAC Take 5