Mining is becoming safer in South Africa but the goal of zero harm is still distant. So far this year 17 fatalities were recorded and 881 injuries on duty. These numbers are much lower than the same time last year in which we saw 35 fatalities and 1056 injuries on duty, but we remain committed to Zero Harm and the sentiments that one injury or death during mining operations is one too many.
At UASA we have mourned the death of two of our members who lost their lives in mining accidents. Though we acknowledge that mining is becoming safer, this means very little when consoling a grieving widow who has just lost a loved one in such an incident.
The fatality frequency ratio of deaths per million hours worked in South Africa in the first quarter of 2019 was 0.04. This is double the number reported by mining countries such as Canada at 0.02 and four times that of Australia at 0.01.
The Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) has taken steps to ensure miners are kept safe. These steps include training in seismology so seismic activities underground can be detected before they spell danger. More innovative thinking and ideas are needed to ensure safety for workers while increasing production and creating more jobs.
Mine safety is not only a job for the DME but also the responsibility of all stakeholders, including organised labour and the mining companies themselves. “No one wants to invest where people die,’’ said Peter Major, head of mining at Mergence Corporate Solutions as quoted in Daily Maverick. It is in the interest of mining companies to reduce/eliminate incidents that make them unattractive to investment from would-be investors. They have a reputation to keep up.
Let’s all work together to make mining safer, increase production and create jobs.
Issued by UASA