Trade union Solidarity has expressed its concern about the rise in fatalities in the mining industry in the first two months of 2017.

Solidarity expressed its concern after the latest provisional fatality statistics for the period 1 January 2017 until 27 February 2017 were released and which clearly indicated an increase in fatalities this year, when compared with the same period in 2016.

According to Advocate Paul Mardon, the deputy general secretary of occupational health and safety at Solidarity, there has already been 16 fatalities during this period compared to the 13 of 2016. “The biggest concern is in the gold mining sector where so far there has been eight fatalities in 2017 compared to the five of 2016. This represents a 60% increase,” Mardon said.

He further pointed out that fall-of-ground, transportation and general accidents, including employees being overcome by gas, are the biggest contributors to fatalities. “Apart from illegal mining, this poses a serious threat to the safety of employees in the mining industry,” Mardon added.

“The drastic increase in fatalities during the first two months of 2017 is worrying and therefore Solidarity urges employers to focus on renewed efforts to prevent any further increase in fatalities in mines. Solidarity strongly believes in training and education of our members and for this reason we have developed a health and safety training course for shop stewards,” Mardon said.

According to Mardon, trade unions such as Solidarity enjoy credibility among their members and therefore they are in an excellent position to reach and motivate their members.

“We are making a plea to employers to involve trade unions more often in their health and safety training decisions. It is also important that employers should become more supportive and involved with health and safety training by trade unions.”