The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says it is disappointed that there was no improvement in mine fatalities in South Africa in 2016.

The NUM said last year’s health and safety performance was against the consistent decrease it has observed over the past few years.  The union said it could be interpreted as a lack of commitment towards zero harm.

“In 2012, there were 112 fatal accidents, with 53 accidents occurring in the gold sector and 28 in the platinum sector. In 2013 there were 94 fatal accidents and in 2014 there were 84 fatal accidents. In 2015 there were 77 fatal accidents with the gold sector accounting for 33 incidents and the platinum sector for 22.

“Today the report talks to 73 fatal accidents against 77 at the same time last year and platinum shows an increase from 22 to 27. We are observing this increase in the platinum belt and interpreting it as a result of employers relaxing the health and safety procedures, standards and policies when workers fight against each other,” stated the NUM.

It added: “We acknowledge that we have signed a five point pledge in the summit held in November last year with a view to achieving zero harm. We call for workers to unite to save their lives, limbs and lungs from the brutality of the industry.”

“Another area of concern is the court battles between the department of mineral resources and employers around section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act, which we believe is meant to save lives of the mineworkers.

“We call upon the parties —  in the spirit of the five point pledge plan — to sit around the table and appreciate the objectives of zero harm and the commitment we made to achieving it, to guide us in finding an amicable solution,” the NUM said.