Mine Health and Safety Centre of Excellence opens in 2017

Mine Health and Safety Council acting chairperson, Xolile Mbonambi.
Mine Health and Safety Council acting chairperson, Xolile Mbonambi.

The Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) will open its Mine Health and Safety Centre of Excellence (CoE) in April 2017, to better implement mining OHS research findings.

The statutory council had appointed a contractor to develop a business plan for the mining Centre of Excellence (see an earlier report on the MHSC’s appointment of the CSIR occupational hygiene specialist, on Sheqafrica.com).

“The Mine Health and Safety Council will collaborate with industry on various initiatives through the Centre of Excellence (CoE),” said MHSC acting chairperson, Xolile Mbonambi, in the MHSC annual report.

“We are also looking at impacts of new technology on workers, in line with Mining Phakisa [Hurry Up, regarding service delivery] initiatives, in modernising the mining industry and improving South Africa’s competitiveness.

“The CoE business plan is being finalised, and will outline the CoE governance framework and structures.

“A CoE Interim Steering Committee has been established to oversee the CoE implementation. Efforts were made to ensure that MHSC projects are on brief, on budget, and on time. Expenditure in the MHSC is within the targeted variance of 5%.

See an earlier report about the mine health and safety centre of excellence plan here:

Industry contracts CSIR for mining behaviour and hygiene research

Some MHSC contractors did not deliver

“An Enterprise Project Management System has been implemented to ensure improvements on the management of projects.

“Engagements with various service providers focused on challenges relating to delivering of project milestones. Interventions also included penalties issued to the service providers who were behind schedule against research projects milestones.

“The focus now is on packaging research outcomes in an easily usable format for dissemination to the mining industry,” said Mbonambi.

The MHSC aims at “improving uptake and implementation of research outcomes, thereby ensuring a return on investment on MHSC resource invested in research.”

The mining health and safety CoE is expected to be “a game changer in the manner of conducting research, to seek solutions on the Occupational Health and Safety challenges faced by the industry; through focused research, implementation and dissemination of research outcomes”.

The second phase of implementation of the CoE will focus on training, development and capacity building in research, and also health and safety skills for mineworkers.

The MHSC continues to review the regulatory framework and advising the Minister of Mineral Resources, including regulatory impact assessment.

“Efforts will be made to improve awareness on changes in legislation and assisting in managing the likely impact on the industry.”

Regional tripartite forums between state, business and labour, have proven to be an effective platform in the dissemination of MHSC information and engagement with stakeholders at regional level.

Awareness of the MHSC “needs serious improvement to ensure relevance of the organisation,” said Mbonambi.

He noted the lowest number of mining fatalities ever during 2015. The financial year that ended in March 2016 was the year of implementing tripartite milestone initiatives, which are the outcomes of the Mine Health and Safety Tripartite Summit three years ago.

“It is now time for the industry to take stock of how far it has come in this continuous journey to achieve the vision of Zero Harm.

“There has been remarkable improvement on the occupational safety front with occupational health issues requiring more attention in various areas.”

The Occupational Health Dialogue in March 2016. The event launched the Isozianad Preventative Therapy (IPT) guideline which has been reviewed in collaboration with the Department of Health to include silicosis aspects.

See an earlier report about mining environment research here:

May Hermanus to lead CSIR mining environment research

Mining health and safety research not implemented

Council CEO T Dube noted ”a great need to implement outcomes of research and to improve in sharing of best practices by industry members and across various sectors.

“Greater emphasis is on the implementation of research outcomes which had not been translated for implementation and where implementable outcomes were developed, there was minimal uptake by the industry.

“For this reason, stakeholders agreed to launch the CoE to ensure that knowledge, technology transfer and training becomes a reality.

“Capacity audits have been completed to check the status of readiness by Primary Service Providers in partnering with the MHSC to support the CoE.”

See an earlier report about mine health and safety enforcement here:

Hermanus wants mining safety enforcement debate

Mining corporate governance

The MHSC acknowledges some supply chain management (SCM) problems. An SCM turnaround plan has been implemented, including capacitation to improve turnaround times in terms of procurement of services and goods, and showing good signs of improvement.

The MHSC has embraced the principles of Good Corporate Citizenship as part of sustainable development.

The MHSC will be embarking on a process of developing an Integrated Reporting approach in the current financial year 2017 -2018.

The Audit and Risk Committee continued to advise the Council with risks identified and controls implemented during the period under review.

The MHSC has a risk strategy and a fraud prevention campaign, including the MHSC toll-free fraud hotline where anyone can report fraudulent activities. The MHSC as a public entity. The level of Irregular expenditure had decreased in the last year.

There has “been an improvement in the promotion and communication of MHSC products and services to the mining industry”, according to the annual report.

See an earlier report about mining governance and illegal mining here:

Illegal mine closures expected

Mining health and safety promotion

The MHSC had embarked on a number of promotional events:

  • Occupational Health and Safety of Women in Mining (WiM) Conference by the MHSC, on “Prioritising health, safety and security of women in mining”. The focus areas were sexual harassment prevention, safety and security of WiM and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for women in mining. The action plan from the WiM conference is being implemented. A tripartite WiM subcommittee, which has been established as part of implementation of the conference resolutions, will develop a roll out a programme that will address issues identified at the conference held in August 2015.
  • MHSC in partnership with Exxaro and Lephalale Municipality in Limpopo, hosted a World AIDS day at Marapong. The event amongst other things was aimed at promoting MHSC initiatives, HIV counselling and testing, referrals for positive cases to obtain treatment and fostering a healthy lifestyle of mineworkers and surrounding communities.
  • The MHSC hosted the commemoration of mine disasters to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in mining-related incidents, and acknowledging the important role that mineworkers have played in shaping the economy of this country.

The areas that need more focus are further promotion of MHSC activities; internal processes to support Council and its Committees; and improvement of the role of governance structures to assist Council on governance and risk management.

The MHSC continues engagements and collaboration with the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) in ensuring appropriate and adequate skills to enable “the achievement of Zero Harm”.

MHSC mandate

The Mine Health and Safety Council is established in terms of section 41 (1) of the Mine Health and Safety Act, to:

  1. Advise the Minister on health and safety at mines including, but not limited to, any legislation on mine rehabilitation in so far as it concerns health and safety;
  2. Coordinate the activities of its committees, receive reports from the committees and liaise with the Mining Qualifications Authority on matters relating to health and safety;
  3. Liaise with any other statutory bodies concerned with matters relating to health and safety;
  4. Promote a culture of health and safety in the mining industry;
  5. At least every two years arrange and coordinate a tripartite Summit to review the state of health and safety of mines;
  6. Perform every duty imposed upon the MHSC in terms of the MHSA;
  7. Annually advise the Minister on relevant research relating to health and safety at mines.

Mine health and safety committees

The MHSC is a tripartite structure comprised of representatives from the state, mine employees, and mine owners. The Council is supported by several committees in the execution of its mandate:

  • Culture Transformation Advisory Committee (CTAC) to advise Council on culture transformation and implementation of Summit Agreements;
  • Mining Regulation Advisory Committee (MRAC) to advise the MHSC on legislation, guidelines and standards;
  • Mining Occupational Health Advisory Committee (MOHAC) to advise the MHSC on occupational health issues;
  • Safety in Mines Research Advisory Committee (SIMRAC) to advise the MHSC on occupational health and safety research;
  • Mining Industry TB, HIV and AIDS Advisory Committee (MITHAC) to advise the MHSC on HIV/AIDS and TB in the mining sector;
  • Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) to advise the MHSC on oversight requirements in line with Public Finance management Act (PFMA) and related corporate governance requirements. Internal Audit is an outsourced function as part of the Combined Assurance Model;
  • Human Resources and Remuneration Advisory Committee (HRRAC) to advise MHSC matters related to Human Resource Management in general, including remuneration.

CEO’s overview by T Dube

“The implementation plan and related initiatives for 2014 Summit Milestones are in various stages of implementation,” said MHSC CEO, T Dube.

Stakeholders had identified nine quick win projects, and seven of the nine projects have been awarded. The remaining two projects have been re-advertised to Research Service Providers. The nine projects are:

  • Underground and surface communication system.
  • Rockmass condition assessment tools.
  • Independent support testing capability of the mining industry.
  • Continuous dust monitoring and suppression systems, which involves real time monitoring and exposures.
  • Missing person locator systems, technologies available for locating miners for rescue and recovery operations.
  • Collision management systems, includes the development of testing facilities for such systems.
  • Understanding the impact of technology on people in the South African Mining Sector, this will assist one of the work-streams in the Mining Phakisa.
  • Statutory equipment assessments, looking at the state of repair of mines statutory equipment.
  • Continuous Dust Monitoring and Suppression.

Women in Mining (WiM) occupational health and safety issues remain a concern. As part of implementing the action plan from the WiM conference, a tripartite WiM subcommittee has been established to roll out a programme that will address issues identified at the recent conference.

Mining occupational health issues

Upon realising that many mineworker’s death due to latent occupational diseases are unaccounted for as they die after leaving the industry, tripartite stakeholders decided to elevate occupational health issues.

The MHSC hosted the first Occupational Health Dialogue in March 2016 which created a platform for stakeholders to deliberate on critical occupational health solutions to reduce exposures to health hazards and go beyond an extra mile to manage occupational health in their operations.

Furthermore, initiatives to commemorate and raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and TB continue to be part of MHSC annual programme.

This is achieved through collaboration with employers and unions who over the years showed their continued support during these events. The MHSC’s Culture Transformation Framework (CTF) as per the Summit outcome, plays a pivotal role in accelerating the SAMI’s journey towards Zero Harm.

Stakeholders agreed to minimum standards of five pillars that must be implemented in order to change OHS culture in the SAMI.

One of the critical requirement for CTF implementation and other Summit outcomes was that leading practices in the sector should be adopted and to this end, the MHSC successfully developed a guideline for the identification and adoption of leading OHS practices for the South African mining industry.

The guideline sets out a common approach and minimum standards for identifying and facilitating the adoption of leading OHS practice in acting to achieve Zero Harm.

Illegal mining add to health and safety risks

Illegal mining activities are causing serious OHS challenges in abandoned and operational gold mines as well as in the platinum, sand and aggregates sector in South Africa.

The practice is mainly rampant in Gauteng Province, mainly East Rand, Central Rand and West Rand areas, where there are open shafts, surface outcrops, mine residue dumps, rivers and old worked out area of an operational mine.

It has been reported that a greater proportion of the fatalities in illegal mining operations are as a result of faction fights, fall of ground and gassing incidents.

SIMRAC initiated a process to conduct a study aimed at developing feasible methodologies for sealing off entries to nonoperational and abandoned mines.

During the 2015/16 financial year, the MHSC continued to undertake new OHS research projects as well as multi-year projects from the previous financial year.

Some MHSC projects completed and in progress

Completed on ongoing South African mining health and safety projects include:

  • Training on the technology transfer on support design in the Bushveld Complex.
  • Opportunities to improve the safety of barring-down practices.
  • Integration of the South African National Seismograph Network and Database with Mining Networks as per the recommendations in Chapter 1 of the Presidential Mine and Safety Audit 2008; Phase 2.
  • Fluid-induced seismicity in the Central Basin Area: ground motion prediction and the development of an early warning system for risk reduction.
  • Technology transfer on minimising seismic risk in the platinum mines; in progress.
  • Develop feasible methodologies to aid escape in poor visibility in underground environments.
  • Impacts of Anti-Retro Viral drugs and HIV on the auditory system; in progress.
  • Adverse health impacts associated with dust emissions from mine tailings Year 3.
  • Handbook on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for women in mining.
  • A South African Minimum Standard on Ground Vibration, Noise, Air Blast and Fly Rock Near Surface Structures to be protected; In progress.
  • Methodologies for determining maximum Bord Widths in Platinum and Chrome Bord and Pillar Mines.
  • Feasible Methodology for Selecting Areal Support for Varying Environments; In progress.

Mine health and safety laws recently amended:

  • Explosive Regulations
  • Trackless Mobile Machinery Regulations
  • Electrical Regulations with Technical Competencies
  • Guideline for Minimum standards of fitness to perform work on a mine
  • Guideline for compilation of a mandatory code of practice for Occupational Health Programme (Occupational Hygiene and Medical Surveillance on Thermal Stress)
  • Guideline for the Compilation of a Mandatory Code of Practice (COP) for the Safe Use of Conveyor Belt Installations for the transportation of Mineral, Material or Personnel
  • Guideline for the Compilation of a Mandatory COP for the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work and Leave Dangerous Working Places
  • Standard Threshold Shift (STS) Guidance Note, for preventing noise induced hearing loss
  • Guidance Note for the Implementation of Tuberculosis Preventative Therapy Among People Living with HIV and Silicosis
  • Mandatory Guidelines for Codes of Practice Guidance Note for TB, HIV and Silicosis
  • Integration of the South African National Seismograph Network and Database with Mining Networks as per the recommendations in Chapter 1 of the Presidential Mine and Safety Audit 2008; Phase 2
  • Health and Safety impacts of socioeconomic conditions and other matters relating to living conditions in the SAMI
  • How can we best monitor behaviour change from interventions related to the people-centred adoption of leading practices?

Source: Mine Health and Safety Council, Annual Report 2015 -2016, ISBN 978-0-620-71163-0, August 2016. MHSC, Building B7, Woodmead Business Park, 145 Western Service Road, Maple North Building, Woodmead, Gauteng, +27 (0)11 656 1797, www.mhsc.org.za or Private Bag X11 Wendywood 2144 South Africa.

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