In a bid to reduce the number of mine deaths, the chamber of mines of South Africa says it aiming to improve safety among its members by creating a model for identifying problems and boosting research.
A total of 40 000 health and safety representatives together with shopstewards will be trained by 2013, and best practices will be shared among members through the Learning Hub, a vehicle created in 2009.
Stanford Malatji, the head of the Learning Hub at the chamber of mines, said on Tuesday that the employer organisation wanted to get to the bottom of mining accidents. “We want to identify what went wrong so t
hat it does not happen again”. “We are establishing a Centre of Excellence to help us to improve research and implementation of research,” he added.
Labour unions gave a pessimistic response to the chamber’s safety improvement plans for 2011.
Leigh McMaster, health and safety researcher at Solidarity, called for the chamber to name and shame members who were not participating in programmes to improve safety.
“We are saying that we welcome the initiatives at the chamber of mines of South Africa to reduce fatalities. However, until such a time that the chamber names the members who don’t participate in these initiatives we will not see a huge reduction of fatalities”.
McMaster insisted that miners who were not participating in safety initiatives had high fatality rates.
National Union of Mineworkers spokesman, Lesiba Seshoka, has dismissed plans of the chamber saying the it was “propaganda”. Seshoka said what needed to change was the change of agenda by executives and chief executive officers at local miners.
“If they can invest the same amount of money in safety as they do in production fatalities would decline,” he said.
Presenting plans for improvement of safety in 2011, Bheki Sibiya, chamber chief executive, said: “Our vision is that every mineworker should go home unharmed every day and we are therefore deeply saddened by the death of so many of our colleagues.”
Last week the department of mineral resources announced that mining fatalities were down by 24 percent last year, to 128 last year from 168 in 2009.
Sibiya said the chamber would continue to work with government for the implementation of the 2008 Tripartite Action Plan on Health and Safety.
“We are looking at 2010 being a milestone for the realisation of achieving our ideal which is a zero harm,” he said.
South Africa is aiming to meet international safety benchmarks of countries like Australia, Canada and the United States.
Sieste van der Woude safety and sustainable development advisor chamber said fatalities are commonly as a result of fall of rock, noise, machinery and transport and dust.
At a summit in 2003, the government, organised labour and South Africa’s chamber of mines agreed that the local mining industry’s safety record should reflect the international benchmark of one death for every 33-million hours worked by 2013.
The number of deaths for every million hours worked in 2010 has not been released by the department of mineral resources.
Source: The Independant