According to advocate Paul Mardon, deputy general secretary of the occupational health and safety division at Solidarity, 2017 has been a difficult year in the mining industry and several incidents have occurred.
“This is precisely why we cannot place enough focus on and pledge dedication to health and safety in mines,” says Mardon.
Mardon argues that mining deaths for 2017 currently amount to about 53, apparently an 11% improvement compared with the corresponding time last year.
“However, when the recent mine deaths are taken into account, it seems as if the number of deaths will exceed those of 2016,” Mardon said.
“Although there have been fewer mining accidents, the intensity of the incidents has escalated, which probably led to more deaths. It appears as if the mining industry is losing its focus and dedication with regard to health and safety,” explains Mardon.
According to Mardon, the increase in mine deaths can be attributed to the demands imposed by a repressed economy on the sustainability of the industry and on mine-workers.
“There is a correlation between increased retrenchments at mines and a decline in focus and concentration by employers. Employers try to prevent retrenchments through increased production, and in the effort to achieve this, the implementation of necessary safety measures remain in abeyance, for example the failure to do proper risk assessment or to comply with prescribed procedures,” adds Mardon.
Solidarity calls on employers to renew their efforts to prevent further mine deaths.
“It is important that all stakeholders in mining, at all levels, should take full responsibility for themselves and for each other, in a mature spirit of cooperation and interdependence,” concludes Mardon.
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