The mining industry, represented by the Chamber of Mines, welcomes the improved 2015 mining industry safety statistics, as released by the Minister of Mineral Resources on Thursday, 28 January 2016.
We are gratified to note the continuing improvement in safety performance, particularly the sustained reduction in the number of fatalities in accidents on our mines. The 87% improvement in this outcome over the past 21 years is testimony to the significant safety efforts of management, employees, government and trade unions.
While 2015 saw an overall reduction of 8% in mining fatalities during 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, we reaffirm our acknowledgment that we cannot rest until every mineworker returns from work unharmed every day.
We mourn the loss of our 77 colleagues to accidents in 2015, and we mourn those who have died in the first month of 2016. We wish all those employees who were harmed in accidents a speedy recovery.
We reaffirm our commitment to achieve the commitments set out at the 2014 Health and Safety Tripartite Summit.
The work of the MOSH Learning Hub, established by the Chamber in 2009 to help companies learn improved safety methods from one another will continue its work unabated. Among the success stories of this work are:
- Various improvements in underground support methods that have resulted in fewer fatalities attributable to fall of ground incidents
- Through the Mine Health and Safety Council, more than R250 million has been spent on research into the seismicity associated with our deep-level mines. The research outcomes led to new mine designs and methods. The number of fatalities associated with seismicity has fallen from 48 in 2003 to four in 2014
- In line with the Culture Transformation Framework developed by the Mine Health and Safety Council, we are changing our accident investigation methods to reduce blame, modifying our bonuses to enhance Zero Harm production, are planning more emphasis on leadership being visible in the operations
- In the area of occupational health, foggers and scraper-winch covers have reduced dust levels significantly.
A further priority area is the health, hygiene, safety and security of women in mining, particularly those working underground. The work ranges from issues of appropriate design of personal protective equipment for women, to taking all possible steps to deal energetically with the challenges of sexual harassment.
We have seen a significant improvement in overall performance amongst those companies and other industry stakeholders that participate in industry initiatives. As employers, we will continue to work steadfastly with other stakeholders in our quest for Zero Harm. Through the Chamber’s CEO Elimination of Fatalities Team, we shall continue to lead from the front in the fields of health and safety.
In conclusion, we thank Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and the Chief Inspector of Mines, Mr David Msiza, for their leadership. We also thank our employees and the trade unions for the important role they play. While safety is the responsibility of the employers, we would be unable to achieve our ultimate goals without the partnership amongst us all.