DMR director general Adv Sandile Nogxina said in Parliament that mining companies must report fatalities, lost time injuries, occupational disease cases, and outline quarterly “measures to prevent occupational diseases, fatalities and serious injuries”.
Mining fatalities have risen to 38 in the first quarter of 2011, up by 25% from the relatively low fatalities and incident statistics of last year, due mainly to lower production and job losses during the financial crisis.
Health and safety work stoppages, some voluntary and some involving DME temporary stoppage notices, informally named ‘stop and fix’ periods, had reduced production time and production by between 10% and 20% on most mines, reports SHEQafrica.com.
SA mining jobs fell by 5% in 2009, then rose a mere 1.2%, to reach 498 055 in 2010, reports Reuters.
Organised labour pressure on employers and on government is at an all time high, following several multiple fatality incidents in recent years, and ongoing awareness and best practice mining industry programmes led by the Chamber of Mines and leading multinational employers, reports Miner’s Choice.
Labour pressure is also informed by a major academic report on sick and dying miners suffering occupational disease in the labour sending areas of southern Africa, and some landmark civil claims for compensation of silicosis and tuberculosis (TB), despite the long standing rule that mining compensation payouts removed recourse to civil claims.
Mining strike day in May 2011
The SA National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) commented that 50 miners have died at work this year up to mid April 2011.
NUM’s 340 000 members will set of strike day in May 2011 in protest against mining deaths. International Workers Day is on Sunday May 1 2011, which in South African law translates into a holiday on Monday May 2, raising the possibility of a strike on Tuesday May 3, which incidentally would lengthen the 2011 Easter April double long weekend by another day, reports SHEQafrica.com.
DMR DG Nogxina said mines judged to be unsafe would be stopped “to implement effective measures to safeguard the health and safety of employees” according to a Reuters report.
MHS Act review against exposure
The South African DMR confirmed that the Mine Health and Safety Act is under review, partly to introduce more effective measures to reduce exposure to silica dust, silicosis and tuberculosis
Nogxina included HIV /AIDS prevention measures among the ideal goals of mining employers, since migrant workers en strenuous work environments are more prone to contracting HIV and to developing AIDS. The pandemic, however, is not an occupational disease.
PHOTO; DMR director general Adv Sandile Nogxina is a veteran in the department and in the former DME.