Mining Health and Safety Needs New Approach

Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica on Tuesday challenged mining bosses to "walk the talk" in transforming the Occupational Health and Safety culture in the sector.

Despite the many strides made in regulatory reform with the Mine Health and Safety Act, the legacies of the past remained, she told the SA Chamber of Mines annual general meeting in Johannesburg.

"We are still dealing with some of the impact of many discriminatory practices which were allowed by the legislation such as disproportionate compensation systems, the inferior housing, poor working conditions and a general neglect of health and safety," she said.

The marginal improvement in Health and Safety statistics also indicated that a plateau might have been reached, requiring the industry to adopt a fresh and radical approach to health and safety issues.

The Mine Health and Safety amendment bill currently before Parliament sought to address the gaps that had been identified after consultations with relevant parties, including labour.

The recent Health and Safety summit had seen a dramatic shift from previous summits in terms of coming up with concrete action plans to be implemented by all concerned in mining.

"We need to address all critical challenges facing us, which includes among other things, the need radically to transform our occupational health and safety culture," Sonjica said.

For the industry to become the best in the world, there was a real need to move away from the values and norms associated with South Africa’s past.

"We have adopted values that will form a good foundation for a real cultural transformation in the recently held summit.

"This will require leaders who are committed in driving this cultural transformation, from the CEO down to the coalface.

"I therefore challenge all our leaders to walk the talk in driving this Health and Safety cultural transformation that we desperately need."

Sonjica said the presidential audits on Health and Safety in the mining industry had been finalised, the results analysed and the report had already been handed to President Kgalema Motlanthe.

After the President had gone through the report, the findings would be announced to the public, she said.

Source: Sapa

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