Health  and safety

The South African mining industry is committed to the principle of zero harm, with the goal that every mineworker should return home unharmed every day. The Chamber, in conjunction with mining companies, aims to achieve a world-class safety performance by working in close collaboration with tripartite partners in government and organised labour.

To track progress against industry health and safety milestones, the Chamber collates data from members, and tracks, evaluates and reports on performance. Through the tripartite Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC), the Chamber is an active participant in the implementation of the Tripartite Action Plan on Health and Safety (2008).

Critical team members

  • Nikisi Lesufi: Senior Executive, Health and Environment
  • Sietse van der Woude: Senior Executive, Modernisation and Safety
  • Dr Thuthula Balfour-Kaipa: Head, Health
  • Stanford Mamoshito Malatji: Head, Learning Hub
  • Dr Sizwe Phakathi: Head, Safety and Sustainable Development

Health

The Chamber provides expert advice and support to members in the fields of occupational health and TB and HIV/AIDS. Occupational health which includes occupational medicine and occupational hygiene.

Context

The primary health challenges vary from sector to sector. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a health risk in almost all areas of mining, as it is in all forms of industry. Occupational lung disease, particularly silicosis, is a major issue in the gold and coal sectors. All these are classified as compensable occupational health illnesses.

Both pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS are significant public health threats in southern Africa, with often debilitating and potentially life-threatening consequences for employees and their communities. Where TB develops in the presence of silica dust exposure, this also becomes an occupational illness.

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Key activities

The Chamber supports the Tripartite Action Plan for the elimination of silicosis and NIHL and the Tripartite HIV and AIDS Plan for stopping the spread of HIV in the mining industry. The Chamber also participated in and supported the development of the SADC Declaration on TB in the Mining Sector adopted by heads of state in 2012.

In managing TB the industry follows the DMR's Guidance Note for TB Control Programmes. Recent industry initiatives on TB include improving the continuum of care and referral for employees with TB, and the implementation of the TB Review Tool for auditing TB programmes.

Key activities in which the health team is engaged are:

  • Providing specialist expertise and advisory input on health related matters to members, including the dissemination of information.
  • Formulating industry policies and position papers on issues that will have an impact on the mining industry, and then representing the industry on these mandated positions in appropriate statutory and other forums.
  • Regular and on-going liaison with government departments and officials.
  • Facilitating interaction and learning between medical representatives and hygiene specialists of member companies.
  • Representing members and mining interests in various key forums such as the MHSC and MHSC sub-committees.

External committees

The Health department participates in the following industry committees:

  • Mine Health and Safety Council
  • ODMWA Advisory Committee
  • South African National AIDS Council

Safety

The Chamber provides expert advice and support to members in respect of safety in the mining industry.

Context

Every day, around half a million people go to work in the mining industry. Mining, as with many other industrial activities, brings with it associated risks and hazards which require unremitting commitment and adherence to safety and health standards and procedures. Much has been achieved in recent years, with employers, labour and government working together to protect the safety and health of all mine employees.

Adoption of Leading Practices on Health and Safety

The Chamber established the Learning Hub in 2009 to encourage mining companies to learn from the pockets of excellence that exist in the industry.

Context

The leading practice adoption process involves identifying, documenting, demonstrating and facilitating widespread adoption of leading practices with the greatest potential to address the major risks in health and safety areas such as falls of ground, transport and machinery, dust and noise.

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Key activities

  • Develop an expert understanding of the risk situation using the causal chain risk summary table or the influence diagram.
  • Conduct preparatory work towards the selection of a leading practice with greatest potential, including but not limited to:
    • conducting risk assessment analysis;
    • undertaking visits and holding discussions at mines;
    • reviewing research and development outcomes;
    • soliciting input from selected experts and industry adoption team members.
  • Convene and facilitate structured planning workshops to identify, consider and select potential leading practices with the greatest occupational health and safety benefits.
  • Identify potential adoption mines and their key and appropriate persons who are to be interviewed in the direct enquiry process to establish their knowledge gaps, misperceptions and mistaken beliefs which can act as barriers to adoption of a selected leading practice.
  • Investigate and document the leading practice at the source mine where it has been proven to be working – this includes the full value case, that is, the business case considerations including the strategic benefits and financial impacts associated with adoption of the leading practice.
  • Develop a user-friendly leading practice adoption guide document that contains all the information (that is, the technical details, behavioural communication and leadership behaviour) that a potential adoption mine needs to voluntarily decide whether or not to adopt the practice, and to then successfully adopt the practice should it decide to do so.
  • Customise the leading practice at the adoption mines to fit in with the mine-specific circumstances.
  • Initiate the widespread adoption process by convening and facilitating a Leading Practice Adoption Workshop.
  • Facilitate ongoing adoption through the establishment of interest groups and/or Community of Practice for Adoption (COPA) which serves as mechanism for mines to acquire guidance, assistance and specialist training to achieve successful adoption of the leading practice.
  • Ongoing facilitation of adoption through establishment and Communities of Practice for Adoption.
  • The process of continuous improvement never stops.

External committees

  • Regional Health and Safety Tripartite Forums
  • Community of Practice for Adoption (COPAs)
  • Industry Adoption Teams
  • Days of Learning on Topical Risk Issues
  • Risk Area focused Indabas