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Department to prioritise safety in mines

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE)  says it will closely monitor and evaluate mine health and safety management systems through inspections and audits for the rest of the year.

“As we approach the end of the year, all mine employers, employees, managers and supervisors are alerted to the historically high number of fatalities and injuries that occur during the last quarter of the year. This period is traditionally very difficult for health and safety at mines,” the department said on Tuesday.

Past data from mine accidents reveals that there are more fatalities reported during the last quarter of the calendar year.

“It is for this reason that mine employers need to put more focus on the health and safety of mineworkers during this period. In this respect, the DMRE will ensure that mines put in place shift fatigue management systems that are continuously monitored.

“Drug and alcohol tests will be done frequently during the afternoon and night shifts. In cases where arrangements are in place for workers to work overtime, managers must ensure that proper supervision is carried out by all responsible mine personnel and measures are put in place to prevent accidents,” the department said.

The department added that mining operations must continue to prioritise the health and safety of its both its workers and other persons who may be directly affected by the mine’s operations.

“All mineworkers and supervisors are reminded that unsafe work practices can be fatal and may lead to undesirable circumstances. Wherever there is non-compliance with the regulations and a threat to the health and safety of any persons at mines, the department will not hesitate to issue instructions, as guided by the Mine Health and Safety Act.”

The rise in reported injuries and fatalities during the festive period is a result of – among other things - poor supervision; anxiety during the Christmas months; a pressure to ramp up production to earn incentives, and the lack of focus and complacency among workers.

The result of this is mine workers taking risky shortcuts and failing to comply with the applicable standards and procedures. 

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