Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 29 April 2010 – Although mine deaths in South Africa are showing a downward curve, mine safety technology is still deficient and leaves room for improvement, according to trade union Solidarity.
This statement was made here today on the occasion of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) World Day for Safety and Health at Work. According to the ILO, the purpose of the special day is to create awareness of issues relating to occupational health and safety and to encourage a culture of prevention.
Solidarity head of occupational health and safety Paul Mardon said the current trends in mine deaths in South Africa were very positive. “All stakeholders in the mining industry worked together to create a safer environment and the decrease in mine deaths over the past year shows that these contributions are paying off,” Mardon added.
In 2007, a total of 221 workers – that is, more than four per week – died on South African mines. By 2009 this figure had decreased to 165 – which is more than three workers per week. And in the first four months of this year, 29 workers died on local mines, which comes to approximately 1.8 deaths per week.
“This figure is relatively low and looks promising if projections are made,” says Mardon. “The first third of the year has passed and it appears that deaths are on the decrease. However, one death is still one death too many,” he declared.
Mardon stressed that although obstacles like the extreme depth of some South African mines increased the danger, a lot could still be done to improve technology aimed at preventing mining accidents.
Solidarity maintains that companies should put more emphasis on the prevention of accidents in the coming months. “We have just passed the Easter season, which is a difficult period, and things went well regarding mine safety,” Mardon observed. “The next period during which workers must be extra cautious is during the Soccer World Cup. Every mining company should start a renewed safety initiative during the World Cup to maintain the positive momentum that has been gathered in respect of safety this year,” he emphasised.