Safety compliance is essential to the wellbeing of miners all over the world. South Africa is one of the most active mining countries with the richest natural resources constantly being uncovered. To assess whether the stipulated rules are being followed, South African mines are required to submit mining and safety compliance reports. This is an attempt to keep employee injuries to a minimum.
Mine Health and Safety Act
Mining compliance includes ensuring certain safety measures are in place to protect miners. The safety measures are covered in the Mine Health and Safety Act of 1996 (MHSA) which is intended to promote safety and prevent employees from being injured or falling ill as a result of their occupation. It aims to create a culture of health and safety awareness in the mines through training and by identifying and minimising risks present in the work environment. By enforcing compliance law and requiring mines to submit an annual report of the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate, the Act works towards a safer future for miners in South Africa.
Occupational diseases need to be reported by the employer to the Principal Inspector of mines. Occupational hazards in mines can cause complications and diseases that include:
• Lung disease – Silicosis, Coal Worker Pneumoconiosis (CWP), Cardio-respiratory Tuberculosis, Asbestosis and Chronic obstructive airway disease
• Noise-induced hearing loss
Risk-based health and safety management
Risk-based health and safety management involves:
• Identification of risk – tasks associated with hazards are assessed and protocols are set.
• Control and record of risk – risk control measures are put in place and the process in its entirety is documented for each individual risk assessment.
• Access to information – it is available to anyone who wishes to see it and it is reviewed annually or as changes occur like when new machinery or equipment is used.
The mine health and safety inspectorate
The mine health and safety inspector is expected to inspect mines, investigate accidents and enforce compliance with the Mine Health and Safety Act. They are also responsible for:
• Setting mandatory guidelines for Codes of Practice
• Informing stakeholders of findings
• Issuing instructions to employers to improve working conditions within a certain time frame
• Issuing instruction to suspend or terminate operations if hazardous
• Issuing administrative fees
• Recommending criminal prosecution
• Suspending or cancelling certificates of competency issued in terms of the MHSA
If you are unsure of a mine’s compliance you could always hire independent mining advisors to help get you inspection-ready.