Mining health and safety statistics 2016

Department of Mineral Resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane announced some improvements in mining health and safety statistics, and some setbacks in injury rates
Department of Mineral Resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane announced some improvements in mining health and safety statistics, and some setbacks in injury rates

Mineral Resources minister M Zwane released mining health and safety statistics at a conference in November 2016.

In 2015, the lowest ever number of fatalities were recorded in the mining sector. A total of 77 fatalities were reported in 2015, compared to 84 the previous year, an improvement of 8%.

Fatalities per commodity were:

  • Gold mines 33 fatalities in 2015, versus 44 fatalities in 2014, an improvement of 25%.
  • Platinum mines 22 fatalities in 2015 versus 16 fatalities in 2014, a regression of 38%.
  • Coal mines 5 fatalities in 2015 versus 9 fatalities in 2014, a significant improvement of 44%.
  • Other mines 17 fatalities in 2015 versus 15 fatalities in 2014, a regression of 13%. This category of mines includes diamonds, chrome, copper, iron ore.

“The South African mining sector is now comparing favourably, in terms of the fatality rates, when compared with other countries such as the United States and Canada,” said minister Zwane.

More mines celebrate a fatality-free year

“There are now more mining companies going for more than 12 months without fatalities. These include, De Beers, Exxaro, Sasol, Northam Platinum, Pilanesberg Platinum, South 32, Aquarius Platinum South Africa, Total Coal South Africa, Kuyasa Mining, Coal of Africa, Eskom Ingula Pumped Storage, Foskor, Lafarge, AfriSam, Petra Diamonds and Trans Hex Mining.

“We congratulate these companies and their mineworkers. We hope that their achievements will serve as an encouragement to the sector, as we do believe that it is possible for other companies to reach such milestones.

“General and fall of ground accidents have in the past been major contributors of fatalities in the sector. However, there has been a reduction of 31% in the number of fatalities classified under General, from 29 fatalities in 2014 to 20 fatalities in 2015.

“Fall of ground fatalities reduced by 12% from 25 in 2014 to 22 fatalities in 2015. In the case of explosives-related fatalities there was also a decrease of 33%.

More mining injuries pose a safety challenge

“A total of 3116 injuries were reported in 2015, compared to 2700 in 2014, a regression of 15% year on year.

“The regression is largely as a result of the comparison period which also includes the platinum wage negotiation period in 2014.

  • Gold mines 1228 injuries in 2015 versus 1243 injuries in 2014, an improvement of 1%.
  • Platinum mines 1331 injuries in 2015 versus 796 injuries in 2014, a regression of 67%.
  • Coal mines 207 injuries in 2015 versus 267 injuries in 2014, an improvement of 22%.
  • Other mines 350 injuries in 2015 versus 394 injuries in 2014, an improvement of 11%.

“Compliance with statutory reporting has improved, with mines timeously submitting their occupational hygiene statutory returns and Annual Medical Reports (AMRs).

“The overall number of occupational hygiene reports submitted for the reporting period 2014 -2015 increased:

  • airborne pollutants by 17%
  • noise by 15%
  • thermal stress by 26%
  • Annual Medical Reports submitted also increased by 10%.
  • Statutory reporting on HIV and TB increased by 49%.

Fewer mining occupational diseases

“There was an improvement of 3% on the number of occupational diseases reported, from 6810 in 2013, to 6577 in 2014. Nationally, the rate of:

  • silicosis cases decreased by 24%
  • pulmonary tuberculosis cases increased by 9%
  • silico-tuberculosis cases decreased by 27%
  • Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) increased by 5%
  • Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis cases decreased by 23%
  • Asbestosis increased by 50%
  • other diseases decreased by 6%, bearing in mind the latency period. Other diseases include HIV/AIDS-related diseases, psychiatric conditions, cardiovascular diseases and orthopedic problems.

“A number of initiatives have been embarked upon to further enhance health and safety in the mining industry. These include:

  • Stakeholder Collaboration
  • Implementation of the 2014 Mine Health and Safety Tripartite Summit Commitments
  • Prioritisation of Health and Safety for Women in Mining
  • Monitoring compliance and enforcing legal provisions
  • Enhancing Skills Development
  • Enhancing Capacity to Monitor Compliance

“We welcome the overall improvements in matters of health and safety, and pledge to continue working with all our stakeholders in ensuring that this matter remains a top priority for all of us. It is after all in the long-term interests of us as stakeholders, and for the sustainability of the mining industry, that every worker should return home unharmed, every day.

“I acknowledge the critical role that our stakeholders, including the labour unions, employers and the media have played in raising awareness on health and safety issues in the mining industry.

“The Mine Health and Safety Act and related regulations as administered by the Department of Mineral Resources, is designed to protect the health and safety of our mineworkers, and to deliver on a dignified work environment such that the right to sanctity of life is guaranteed at all times.

“We therefore continue to place great importance on the collaboration with all our stakeholders, as it is only through working together that we can attain the ultimate goal of zero harm.

“Statistics shows that before 1994, the mining industry reported high fatalities, injuries and occupational diseases. The figures reported by the industry were on average 800 fatalities and 12 000 injuries per annum over the two decades before 1994.

“Since the dawn of democracy, as the state developed and implemented the appropriate policies, there has been a downward trend in the annual figures. We believe there is room to do even better.”

  • Source; DMR.
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