Surface mining operations under the umbrella of industry association, ASPASA, have upheld their proud achievement of zero fatalities on their premises for the fifth consecutive year.
Following the release of the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe’s 2019 industry health and safety performance statistics it became clear that continued efforts of the association’s members had yielded the best kind of reward.
“Planning, attention to detail, checking and rechecking of systems to ensure compliance has once paid off for our members and we have recorded no fatalities once again. This underlines the serious nature in which ASPASA members view mine health and safety,” says ASPASA director Nico Pienaar.
“While our hearts go out to the 51 miners who tragically lost their lives in other sectors of the industry, we are grateful that no loss of life has occurred on any of our mines for the past five years. However, we remain ever vigilant and continue to strive for Zero Harm as agreed with all parties to the Minerals Council South Africa.
“We have also worked closely with the Minerals Council’s ZERO Harm Forum which initiated a number of measures to holistically address health and safety on all of the country’s mines. This we regularly communicated to our members as well as passing on good practices presented by the forum following its scrutinization of the major causes of accidents as they occurred.
“Our members have also continued to uphold strict health and safety standards with compulsory annual audits to ensure compliance with all health regulations and legislation. Our audit system is ten years old now and has shown the way for similar organisations to follow locally and internationally,” says Nico.
He adds that sharing of safety information is vitally important and that its own initiative to collect statistics relating to health and safety on its member operations’ sites is ongoing. While all serious incidents are required to be reported by law, the association gleans further information for its own records in order to identify trends and address recurring problems for a safer working environment.
Other important interventions include the compilation of an extensive toolkit to empower surface mine owners to comply with all requirements of the Mine Health and Safety Act, as well as related legislation and its own strict standards. The association has worked closely with law makers and its own legal representatives to fully understand laws pertaining to opencast mining. During this period, the association has had its own health and safety (H&S) experts compile aids that can assist its members to comply with legislation.
It has also developed its own H&S management system (based on ISO standards) that is implemented at all member sites and audited on an annual basis. Top achievers are awarded at an annual awards ceremony. In addition, Aspasa provides training in the form of regular workshops throughout the country at major centres, or if required on an individual basis in outlying areas.
“Our aim is to empower surface mine owners and their representatives to run the safest possible operations that are free from injuries or harm for those on the site, as well as surrounding communities. This type of cooperation is important among the entire industry and its supply chain,” concludes Nico.