Stakeholders who attended MineSafe 2021 on November 25 have recommitted themselves to working towards the elimination of fatalities, injuries and occupational diseases on South Africa’s mines in pursuit of Zero Harm and to ensure each employee returns from work unharmed every day.
The urgency of interventions to address health and safety and, more specifically, the continued loss of life of employees in the mining sector cannot be understated, Minerals Council South Africa said in a statement on December 6.
It noted, with concern, the deaths of 69 people so far this year, compared with 48 in the same period last year. This is the second consecutive year of regression in fatalities and the industry’s stakeholders have committed to urgently address the “unacceptable situation”.
In 2020, the total number of fatalities was 60, up from the lowest number on record, of 51, in 2019.
To achieve a step change towards transforming health and safety in the mining sector, stakeholders from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the Minerals Council, organised labour, suppliers’ organisations, professional associations, the Mine Health and Safety Council and Mining Qualifications Authority have committed to taking full accountability in addressing the challenges besetting the mining sector.
Work is already under way to address falls-of-ground and transport-related accidents which are the leading causes of fatalities.
At the MineSafe 2021 Conference, stakeholders accepted responsibility to assist in ensuring individual and group commitments to improve health and safety performances.
The commitments agreed to at the MineSafe 2021 Conference would complement and help the mining industry to achieve the 2014 Summit Ten-Year Milestones, the council said.
The tangible outcomes of the MineSafe 2021 Conference included agreements on the implementation of, besides other interventions, treating all employees with respect, trust and dignity, while also assisting each other, asking for help and providing guidance to maintain a healthy and safe environment.
Agreements were also implemented to build the existing relationship by earning the trust of other stakeholders by honouring agreements and upholding commitments while engaging respectfully with each other.
Among other measures, stakeholders agreed to the implementation of the five-year, R46-million Fall of Ground action plan launched at the Minerals Council‘s National Day of Health and Safety in Mining held in July this year.
Stakeholders also intend to conduct a statistical analysis of all fatalities over the last decade using international leading practice methodologies and proposing an action plan to eliminate all other risks effectively through for example modern training methods.