The local mining industry has reported 25 fatalities in the year so far, compared to 29 reported deaths in the same period last year.
This is according to Minerals Council South Africa, which said on Wednesday that it is investing R46 million via a six-pillar Fall of Ground Action Plan to achieve zero harm and curb fatalities on mines.
The council’s CEO Zero Harm Leadership Forum has agreed on an action plan in conjunction with other professional mining associations.
Although there has been a decline in mine fatalities in the year to date, the industry believes this is not sufficient and there is a “long way to go to achieve the target of zero harm”.
The Minerals Council board held a special meeting in December 2021 to agree and urgently implement eight interventions to halt two years of regression in safety performance in the mining industry.
In 2020 and 2021, the industry reported 60 and 74 fatalities respectively, compared to the all-time low of 51 mine fatalities in 2019.
Turning the tide
Speaking at a National Day of Health and Safety in Mining event on Wednesday, Minerals Council President Nolitha Fakude said: “My greatest wish is that when we meet again this time next year, we will be able to say to each other we have stepped up to the challenge together and turned the tide of fatalities, injuries, diseases, and gender-based violence in the industry.”
The event included Chief Inspector of Mines David Msiza, representatives of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and United Association of South Africa.
All parties agreed that 25 fatalities so far this year is unacceptable and committed to working together to achieve zero harm.
They highlighted the importance of reducing fatalities stemming from falls of ground and trackless mobile machinery incidents.
According to the council, a 35.7% decrease in reported occupational health diseases to 2 013 was seen in 2020, down from 3 130 in 2019.
“The incidence of diseases declined across all categories, with the biggest decline seen in coal worker’s pneumoconiosis and pulmonary TB. The industry had a 44.6% decline in cases of TB to 849 in 2020 from 1 533 in 2019,” it noted.
The council assured workers that it will accelerate safety interventions and initiatives through an independent peer review of its Incident Investigation and Analysis System, a project that emanated from the Khumbul’ekhaya safety initiative it launched in 2019.
“The intention is to share experiences and learnings from safety incidents to avoid repetitions.”
It said the industry has also lost 750 colleagues to Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic– a fatality rate of 1.18% compared to 2.6% nationally.
Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.