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Following an extremely high number of mining fatalities and injuries, the Minerals Council of South Africa (MCSA) has launched a National Day of Safety and Health in Mining. The initiative will see all 66 mining companies who are members of the industry body holding safety and health days over the coming month.

National Day of Safety launched in mining industryThe Council has called the current situation a crisis, adding that it is unacceptable. There have been 58 mining deaths in 2018 alone, up from 51 in 2017, which was also an increase from the 2016 fatality figures. Sibanye-Stillwater has seen 22 of these fatalities at its operations.

Four unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and UASA have all conducted individual investigations into health and safety challenges facing the mining industry. They recently presented a collaborative report to the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources, which included recommendations on improving relations between mineworkers and mine companies and towards the improvement of health and safety of miners.

Although generally applicable to mining, the report focused on the challenges faced by miners at Sibanye-Stillwater. It recommended that all state-owned companies must lead by example and comply with all legislative and regulatory prescriptions, that mine companies not prioritise productivity and profitability above the safety and health of miners, and that the climate of fear, threats and intimidation against miners who report safety and health concerns must be dealt with. The unions state in the report that they are committed to achieving Zero Harm through working closely with government and mine companies.

According to the MCSA, safety has been improved by 80% over the last two decades. The industry is working towards a goal of zero-harm by 2024.  

“The ultimate goal of this initiative is to remind each and every company, manager and employee that the safety and health of employees is the uppermost priority for this industry. Ensuring the safety and health of all mining employees requires active collaboration between management, employees and regulators. The Minerals Council and its members acknowledge our responsibility to do all we can, to achieve our shared goal of zero harm. We ask all industry stakeholders to share in our commitment to safety and health, first, always and every day,” MCSA CEO Roger Baxter said at the launch of the National Day of Safety and Health in Mining.

Image credit: http://www.miasa.org.za/members/the-minerals-council-south-africa

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