Mine Health and Safety Amendment Bill for comment

The draft Mine Health and Safety Amendment Bill of November 2013, including a new definition of ‘mining area’, is out for comment.

Mining area

In terms of clause 31 of the draft Bill, a Mining Area would encompass areas for which mining rights or mining permits have been granted; adjacent or non-adjacent surface land on which related or incidental operations take place; any connecting road, railway line, power line, pipeline, cableway or conveyor belt; the surface land on which such a structure is located; and all buildings, structures, machinery, mine dumps and other objects on the surface land specified in the definition.

The proposed new definition also refers to related environmental, health, social and labour matters and ‘any latent or other impact thereto’.

The term ‘owner’ is redefined to encompass the holder of mining rights and permits along with ‘works’-related activities, reports Legalbrief Policy Watch.

Formal Health and Safety training

The draft Bill also seeks to place an obligation on employers to prioritise the provision of ‘formal’ health and safety training at South Africa’s mines. In the context of training, the term ‘formal’ refers to structure and assessment.

With that in mind, clause 7 of the draft Bill proposes removing the term ‘reasonably practical’ from section 10 of the Act. Related to this, clause 6 seeks to amend section 7 (staffing a mine with due regard to health and safety) with the aim of making the employer who appoints a contractor ‘ultimately responsible’ for compliance with the Act.

Regarding an employer’s obligations in respect of investigating and reporting on accidents, deaths, serious injuries, serious illnesses and health-threatening occurrences, the draft Bill proposes the insertion of a new sub-section under section 11 of the Act.

Replacing sub-sections (5), (5A), (5B), 6, 7 and 8 of section 11, the proposed new provisions spell out procedures currently dealt with in far less detail.

Occupational Health issues

Other issues addressed in the proposed amendments include the employment of occupational health practitioners; declaring an employee ‘unfit to work’ and that employee’s right to appeal such a decision (section 17 of the Act dealing with exit certificates); disputes over a declaration of unfitness to work (section 20 of the Act); and the right to appeal a decision made by the Chief Inspector of Mines (section 57).

In this regard, it is proposed that no person should approach the Labour Court regarding an administrative decision by the Chief Inspector of Mines until he/she has exhausted the appeal process provided for in the Act.

Regarding institutional arrangements, clause 16 of the draft Bill seeks to make provision under section 43 of the Act (Mine Health and Safety Council) for an administrative fund not only for the payment of fines imposed by the Principal Inspector of Mines, but also – at the Minister’s discretion – for the promotion of health and safety across the industry.

Appointment of Inspectors

Amendments aimed at strengthening section 47 of the Act (the inspectorate) are also proposed, seeking to provide for the appointment of a Principal Inspector of Mines for each region and the appointment of a Medical Inspector, as well as the Minister’s obligations in their regard.

With that in mind, consequential amendments to section 49 of the Act (functions of the Chief Inspector of Mines) are proposed including the repeal of sections 49A (financial and judicial management) and 49B (cooperative governance).

Penalties

On penalties, the draft Bill proposes that section 92 of the Act should be amended to provide for offences on the part of ‘an employer who is a company ‘not exceeding 10% of the company’s annual turnover for the period during which … (it) has failed to comply with the relevant provision, or to imprisonment not exceeding ten years’.

Schedule 8 of the Act sets out penalties for offences committed by any person not deemed to be ‘an employer who is a company’.

According to a memorandum on the objects of the proposed new statute, it is ‘of high priority’ not only to the Department of Mineral Resources, but to government in general.

Reference is made to the ‘urgent need to improve health and safety standards in order to curb the high number of fatalities the industry is currently experiencing’ as well as the incidence of occupational diseases among employees.

Comment on the draft Bill has been invited for a period of 60 working days.

Source; Pam Saxby for Legalbrief Policy Watch.

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9 thoughts on “Mine Health and Safety Amendment Bill for comment

  1. Surely they mean 10% of contract value turnover during that period, not turnover of the whole company, this does not make economic sense

  2. What I found quite interesting after only scanning through the insertions, is that the term reasonable practicable is removed from the training requirement, and training has to be formal – no more on the job training.
    Medical practitioners stand to benefit greatly, as they have to be appointed in a part or full time capacity. A mine will have to fork out a retainer each month to ensure availability of a part time OMP.
    I also need to look into the removal of the “body corporate”, being replaced by “company”. This is quite interesting, as a “non-company” cannot always appoint a Chief Executive Officer. Although the term is not defined in the amendment, the Companies Act, do define it. CC’s, Trusts, Partnerships, and Co-operatives are not Companies, but still a body corporate.
    Another interesting thing is the removal of the escape from vicarious liability of the Employer and making them liable for contractor compliance.
    Clearly this piece of law requires detailed analysis.

    1. It are the difference between a natural and a legal person. A natural person can only take one form unless he (or she) are a con-joined twin, then they is still a two natural persons joined by whatever part of the anatomy. A legal person can take many forms and be called many things. Perhaps there are a definition for company somewhere?

      1. I agree it are the difference. I has a twin brother, who can also takes on many forms. He are what some such people see as a contortuonist. He are able to grab his ankles and pull himself over his shoulders.
        Koos , a company are a one or more natural persons that is not attached to any part of the other’s anatomy that runs a business as a legal person.

      2. Ag fanks Peter, I did think that you had some skills in your family background. My boet was a groot ankle biter, but that was other people’s ankles and not his own . It sounds like your boet could really bend over backwards – did he also become a safey officer?

      3. Hi Koos
        Yes he did become a safety officer. He is currently in the UK, learning proper English.

  3. Lekker. I think I must also go there, I want to upgrade my SAMTRAC and take a step up from SHREQ rep to Safety Ociffer. That Queen lady speaks most deliciously, so I know I can learn better engels one time there.

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