South Africa. The Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) confirmed this week that the number of workers that died in South African mines, fell in 2008,
The DME’s inspector of mines, Thabo Gazi said that the department was finalising its statistics, which it would release by the end of January.
Statistics released by trade union Solidarity in December 2008, stated that 168 workers lost their lives in mining-related incidents during 2008. This was 23% less than the 221 workers who died the year before.
Gazi attributed the decline in fatalities to the work of the inspectorate, which he said was more focused on problem areas during the year.
"We took necessary actions where it was needed, we stopped operations, we issued fines, and generally it heightened people’s attention on the need to address health and safety issues," commented Gazi.
He was also of the opinion that the new Mine Health and Safety Amendment Bill, would lead to a further decline in mining fatalities. This Bill paves the way for stricter penalties on mining companies and hold CEOs criminally liable for fatalities at mines,
"That amendment was purely driven by the very fact that we have legislation that is not enforceable and that provides no incentive for people to do the right thing. I have no doubt that it will really help us to drive the health and safety agenda," he Gazi.
The Bill was passed by Parliament in November last year, but would still have to be signed into law by President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Source: Mining Weekly