(GMT +2)
Mining News
More than 100 recorded deaths in South African mines last year
19 January 2012
More than 100 recorded deaths in South African mines last year
More than 100 people died in SA’s mines last year. The number represents an ongoing failure to meet the industry’s target of achieving “zero harm”, reiterated over the past decade.
About 300000 people work in SA’s deep-level gold and platinum mines, where huge rock pressures add to mining’s other major hazard of moving equipment.
Preliminary figures to end-November last year show 116 people died on the mines compared with 128 in 2010 and 168 in 2009. The industry is awaiting the final 2011 figures from the department of mineral resources (DMR). At least another three people died in the first two weeks of January.
Paul Mardon, head of trade union Solidarity’s department of occupational health & safety, says many mineworkers were retrenched after 2010 but that the number of deaths has not dropped significantly. This implies more fatalities as a percentage of the workforce last year than in 2009 or 2010.
He says good progress has been made by the industry since 2007, in consultation with trade unions, but it doesn’t seem to have been enough. The effectiveness of measures to make mines safer levelled off last year and may even have deteriorated.
One reason could be that the commitment of senior management to health and safety isn’t fully shared by supervisors, who are responsible for production targets as well as safety.
“The dictates of production targets often tend to be predisposed in favour of production and not compliance with safety standards,” Mardon says.
National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Lesiba Seshoka agrees. “The mining industry seems to see anything to do with safety as a punishment because it costs production,” he says.
“You will find that towards the end of the month, if the production performance is falling behind, team leaders will push hard to catch up, which creates dangerous working conditions. The bonus should be based on both meeting production targets and meeting them safely.”
Mardon says many accidents are caused by human error and that it seems workers are no longer listening to the health and safety messages . New and innovative ways have to be found to get those messages through.
A highly emotive issue last year was how often the DMR shut mines temporarily after incidents while investigating the causes. Apart from the costs in lost production, opponents of this move suggest it “breaks the mining rhythm” so when the mine re starts there’s an immediate spike in safety incidents.
“Yes, it is true that when a mine is shut it costs production, but companies need to recognise that safety is as important as production and you should invest in both,” Seshoka says. “Mines stopped under section 54 notices can still be maintained. Safer mines are more productive.”
Though Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland regularly reiterates at public presentations that “if we cannot mine safely, we will not mine at all”, 18 people were killed on Gold Fields mines last year against 17 in 2010. But there’s no hint that the company might shut unsafe mines, nor is there any support from the unions for such a move.
Mardon rejects complete closure of unsafe mines as it doesn’t benefit the economy, the mines or the workers, he says.
Seshoka says there are other solutions. SA mines should invest in technology used in almost all other mining countries to predict seismicity, so underground workers should be evacuated when the risks are high.
A Chamber of Mines spokesman says it cannot comment until the DMR releases full-year accident statistics. It will then reveal what it will do differently this year to improve safety.
Seshoka takes exception to the suggestion that strict safety rules deter foreign investment. If foreign investors are to build mines in SA in which their employees die, they “must take their money elsewhere”, he says.
News ArticleView Article
Mogalakwena streamlines operational requirements with Passport 360 View
Bobcat HB880 breaker is tough enough for any demolition work View
HMA South Africa is exclusive distributor for Det-Tronics fire and gas safety solutions View
AECOM offers water resilience expertise for drought-plagued SA View
AECOM champions inclusivity from project sites to the boardroom View
Skyriders showcases rope access at coal-mining maintenance project View
Canyon Coal extends life of its Phalanndwa mine with first blast View
How Different Types of Truck Scales Benefit the Mining Industry View
Shumani continues diversification drive by exhibiting at Propak Africa 2019 View
Skyriders makes quick work of massive storage-tank maintenance project View
Our Partners
ArriveAlive ALCO-Safe
Alcohol Breathalysers PSA
HSE Solutions Old Mutual iWyze
Ctrack Intelligent Solutions Become a Partner
Become a Partner Become a Partner
Quick Links
  • Mogalakwena streamlines operational
  • Bobcat HB880 breaker is tough enoug
  • HMA South Africa is exclusive distr
  • AECOM offers water resilience exper
  • AECOM champions inclusivity from pr
  • Skyriders showcases rope access at
  • Canyon Coal extends life of its Pha
  • How Different Types of Truck Scales
  • Shumani continues diversification d
  • Skyriders makes quick work of massi
  •        Articles
  • What is a water audit and why does
  • What to Consider When Hiring Equipm
  • How to Apply for Mining Finance
  • Top Tips for Improving Welding Safe
  • Behaviour based safety programmes r
  • Training and preparedness the steps
  • DRA Sets Gold Standard On Elikhulu
  • How drones are assisting companies
  • Dangerous jobs: what is and is not
  • Safety Tips for Working With a Dump
  •        Useful Links
  • Mining Laws
  • Training
  • Downloads
  • Blog
  • About Us
  • Contact Us
  • Home  |   Contact  |   Browser  |   Disclaimer  |   Privacy Policy  |   CMS    
    © 2019 Mining Safety