Two Mine Health and Safety Regulations amendments in September 2014, aim to improve occupational disease reporting by employers.
In Government Gazette 37980 of 12 September 2014, Notices 701 and 702 amend the regulations on the reporting of occupational diseases and occupational health (OH) incidents.
A new health incident report form is also added to the forms stipulated in the regulations by the SA Department of Mineral Resources.
The notices point out that the changes to South African Mine Health and Safety law, follows consultation with the Department of Labour’s Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety (ACOHS), as well as DMR bodies such as MHSA, MQA, MRAC and Simrac.
It is rare for mine health and safety regulations to involve industrial sectors, due to the departmental split (but see transfer of steel industry compensation to the mining fund, below).
Both notices are signed by former mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu. The SA parliament Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources had earlier in 2014 invited mining employers and labour unions to re-plan mining safety and empowerment.
The Association of Mining and Construction Union (AMCU), Solidarity, National Union of Mine Workers (NUM), Chamber of Mines and South African Mining Development Association participated in a “platform for knowledge sharing on the pertinent issues that affect the sector.”
Committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipho said stakeholders highlighted their concerns on as health and safety, and labour noted non-compliance to the Mining Charter, including wage levels.
NUM applied pressure on the Department of Mineral Resources to impose punitive measures to the mines that do not comply with the provisions of the Mining Charter.
Luzipho expressed discomfort with Impala Platinum and Harmony Gold for threatening to close and retrench workers.
SA leads African mining safety
Mining fatality statistics of the last thirty years indicate continuous improvement (see graph), but there was also sustained cutbacks on production and employment, in tandem with increased work stoppages and strikes.
The fatality rate and injury rate per working hours, occupational diseases and HIV data tell a different story to the ‘body count’.
Industry did not reach its 2013 milestones towards the stated goal of ‘zero harm’, which itself is a vague and controversial concept, nor to world class health and safety performance.
The Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) and the Safety in Mines Research Advisory Committee (Simrac) had resolved two years ago to follow seven steps;
1 Analysis of OHS performance
2 Review of previously conducted research
3 Latest Developments in OHS (national and international)
5 Development of Key Focus Area
6 Project Execution
7 Transfer of Research Outcomes.
South African mining suppliers are “leaders in some of the vast mining services including geological services, prospecting, shaft sinking, turnkey solutions to the mining and mineral processing industries, and operation services,” reports African Economic Outlook for 2014.
“They [SA suppliers] are also competitive on a global scale when it comes to the four vital areas of mine safety, tracked mining, shaft sinking and ventilation.
“Development in these areas is strong and considered much greater than in comparable countries such as Chile or Australia.
“According to the South African Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC), one of South Africa’s largest exports is mining equipment, accounting for 8.5% of total exports from 2005 -2009, and 55% of capital equipment exports.
“It is estimated that 90% of the exports of the mining equipment and specialist services are local content.”
South African mining health and safety law includes;
 Refuge Bays regulations
 Rail bound legislation
 Electrical regulations
 Trackless Mobile Equipment
 Guidelines for Mine workers Incapacity due to Ill Health
 Guidance Note on TB in the SAMI
 Guidance Note of Practice for Risk based Emergency Care on a Mine
Guidelines on Mandatory Code of Practice on Roles and Responsibilities of Occupational Health Practitioners.
Steel compensation to change
Meanwhile the mining occupational injuries compensation system is being extended to the steel industry, as reported on Sheqafrica.com earlier this year. The official text follows;
“Government Gazette of 14 July 2014, 37826 3, GENERAL NOTICE 565 OF 2014; NOTICE TO ALL COMPENSATION FUND STAKEHOLDERS; TRANSFER OF CLASS 13 EMPLOYERS (IRON, STEEL, ARTIFICAL LIMBS, GALVANISING, GARAGES, METALS, ETC) TO RMA
“The Department of Labour (Compensation Fund) has extended the licence of the Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA) in terms of section 30 of the Compensation for Occupational Diseases and Injuries Act (COIDA) 130 of 1993 as amended, to include Class 13 employers (Iron, Steel, Artificial Limbs, Galvanising, Garages, Metals Industries, etc.”
The Department of Labour (Compensation Fund) is in the process of implementing its turnaround strategy and this arrangement will facilitate the successful conclusion of the strategy.
The Compensation Fund remains responsible for overseeing the compliance of the licensee with all the requirements of the COID Act.
RMA has a well-established track record in the management of claims for occupational injuries and diseases in the mining industry and has been administering claims for occupational injuries and diseases since 1894.
RMA offers the same benefits as stipulated by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act.
Class 13 employers registered with the Compensation Fund will be transferred on 1 March 2015. A list of active Class 13 employers is on the Department of Labour website at www.labour.gov.za.
Sources; PMG. Sabinet. Allafrica.com.
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