Mining services company NewRak Mining senior GM Andy Brown tells Mining Weekly that, to date, the company has successfully achieved seven years and ten months of fall-of-ground fatality-free shifts at its operations.
Brown notes that this is the result of the guidance from its mining clients, the company’s implementation of several different safety systems and best practices, as well as its stringent focus on skills development.
This significant number of fatality-free shifts was achieved at 25 different mining sites by seven different mining companies working in the platinum, chrome and gold sectors.
“We have achieved more than two-million fatality-free shifts at two of our clients’ mine sites alone, while having achieved 2.5-million fatality-free shifts at another one of our clients’ operations by December 2012.”
Brown notes that while contractors traditionally hire labour from the mining houses, the prevalence of skilled workers in the mining industry has steadily been declining, specifically among skilled mineworkers and shift supervisors.
To ensure a high level of skills and a safety culture among its workers, NewRak Mining ensures that the proper selection of experienced employees is undertaken, that continued on-the-job training is provided and that regular and thorough risk assessments are undertaken to ensure the complete compliance of all staff to every aspect of the Mine Health and Safety Act.
“This also includes regular underground audits and follow-ups and the effective communication of safety issues to all staff through regularly scheduled safety meetings,” he adds.
In addition, the establishment of scheduled safety risk assessments and the stringent adherence to best mining practices ensure that every member of NewRak Mining’s workforce is knowledgeable and competent, which, therefore, reduces the safety risk to workers.
As a result, NewRak Mining is training learner miners, artisans and learner officials at various mining sites in South Africa and is also sponsoring the education of mining engineers at the University of Pretoria.
The training programmes at the mining sites run for about two years and comprise skills modules that cover all aspects of engineering and mining. Depending on the occupation of the worker, all the relevant safety aspects of the job are also taught.
“Our first group of learners will complete their training next month, followed by the recruitment of another group of learners who will begin the training course,” says Brown.
NewRak will also send 10% of its workforce on the Mining Qualifications Authority-accredited safety representative training programme.
This is in line with the Mining Charter’s expectation and the mining industry’s com- mitment to train 40 000 persons as occu- pational health and safety (OHS) representatives by 2014. To achieve this target, each company is expected to have enrolled 8% of its employees for training on the OHS representatives course by 2014.