Ensuring the safety of mining industry colleagues must be the industry’s upper most priority, the Chamber of Mines said in response to a picket at its offices on Thursday by a small group of members of Cosatu and the NUM.
Since the dawn of democracy, the industry and its tripartite partners, including labour unions and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), have illustrated that by working together the industry’s safety performance can improve.
Great strides have been made towards achieving the collective goal of zero harm. Between 1993 and 2016, the number of fatalities across the industry declined by around 88% while fatalities as a result of fall of ground incidents declined by 92% over the same period. Other safety indicators improved at similar rates.
Initiatives aimed at increasing safety
Addressing fall of ground incidents, particularly at deep-level mines, is an area that joint industry efforts have focused on most intensively over the past several years. Through the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC), significant resources have been invested and far-reaching research has been done to address this. Over R150 million has been invested in falls of ground research and more than R250 million has been spent on research into the seismicity associated with our deep-level mines. A further R40 million has led to new mine designs methods.
As a result, the number of fatalities associated with seismicity decreased from 48 in 2003 to 14 in 2017.
Since 2017 the industry has noted an increase in the number of accidents related to seismic-induced falls of ground.
To better understand and address this phenomenon, the Mining Industry Occupational Safety and Health Fall of Ground task team has been established.
Leading practices are also being developed and the findings will be shared across the industry.
On 20 September 2017, the Mining Industry Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) Learning Hub facilitated a ‘day of learning’ workshop on seismicity where lessons were shared and relevant research needs were identified to actively manage seismic events.
Furthermore, through the CEO Zero Harm Forum and the Mine Health and Safety Council, the Chamber continues to engage with all its tripartite partners including the DMR and organised labour on various platforms to identify and address safety challenges.
As employers, the industry fully accepts its role and responsibilities in achieving the goal of zero harm. Ensuring the safety and health of all mining employees requires active collaboration between management, employees and regulators.
The Chamber of Mines is therefore calling on all stakeholders to re-affirm their commitment to and to remain focus on achieving zero harm in ensuring that each and every employee returns home safely to their families at the end of every day.