Slight improvement in mining fatality figures

The fatality figures in the mining sector for 2016 have improved by 5% when compared to 2015.

A total of 73 fatalities were reported in 2016 compared to 77 during the previous year, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said on Thursday.

Explaining the fatality figures per commodity during the year 2016, Minister Zwane said the gold mines accounted for 30 deaths, the platinum sector figure stood at 27, the coal mines at four and other mines were at 12.

Releasing the statistics on the health and safety performance of the mining industry in Randfontein, he said 2016 suggests that the major gold and platinum mines remain the main contributors to accidents and the subsequent loss of lives.

This is regrettable, as we believe that these mines should be at the forefront in terms of the development of appropriate systems and expertise to enhance health and safety, Minister Zwane said.

He said fatalities reported by the gold, coal and other mines sectors last year show a decrease of 9%, 20% and 33% from 2015, respectively.

The platinum sector reported an increase in the number of fatalities by 29% from 21 in 2015 to 27 in 2016.

Despite the improvement in the number of fatalities reported in 2016, I want to convey my serious concern that we continue to experience loss of lives in the mining sector. Already there are four fatalities that have been reported since the beginning of this year, with the most recent occurring yesterday, Minister Zwane said.

He welcomed the decrease of 15% in the number of injuries, from 3 138 in 2015 to 2 662 in 2016.

Minister Zwane said it was encouraging that occupational diseases reported by the gold, other and coal sectors reduced by 15%, 8% and 4%, respectively.

Health and safety initiatives

A number of initiatives have been embarked upon to enhance health and safety.

Minister Zwane said his department will continue engaging and collaborating with its social partners to ensure that the health and safety of the workers in the sector is prioritised.

In order to monitor and enforce compliance to health and safety measures at mines, group audits and inspections are conducted to ensure compliance with the legal provisions.

The group audits mainly focus on the effectiveness of control measures that have been put in place to prevent rock falls, rock bursts and transport equipment accidents, he said.

The audits evaluate mine management systems for preventing exposure of employees to noise and dust which could result in workers suffering from noise induced hearing loss and silicosis.

Minister Zwane said as part of the audits, mines TB, HIV and Aids programmes are being evaluated to ensure that there is an improvement.

Mine inspectors are also checking whether the mines are complying with the Mining Charter commitments for improving living conditions of employees and conversion of single sex hostels, as it has been determined through research that poor living conditions are also exacerbate Tuberculosis, HIV and Aids and other health and safety challenges.

The department will continue to work together with our social partners to ensure that there is significant and sustained improvement in the health and safety of mineworkers, he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency