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Safe miners keep mines alive

Safe miners keep mines alive

Safe Miners Keep Mines Alive

/ MEDIA STATEMENT / This content is not written by Creamer Media, but is a supplied media statement.

As approximately 400 000 mineworkers return to work in full force, there may be a substantial amount of anxiety around Health and Safety measures being put in place and adhered to.

“Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said all mining companies will be required to prepare a code of good practice for preventing the spread of Covid-19. He said non-compliance with health and safety measures by mining companies is a criminal offense and in breach of mining regulations.”

Given that the landscape of health and safety in general has been in the spotlight and efforts have been substantially intensified, surely it would make sense to revamp the entire health and safety strategy to ensure longevity of the process and sustained benefits to both the workers and the mines long-term?

We could easily compare the devastating effects of accidental injury with the spread of infection, as both are devastating to the mining industry. Since Covid-19 safety measures are now mandated, we maintain that we should be addressing total mine safety.

Our necessarily complex Mine Health & Safety regulations seek to benefit everyone and if practiced effectively lead to a safe industry. Bearing in mind the complexity of the legislation, the use of appropriate technology can help guide the user through the defined processes and the morass of required behaviours needed to stay safe at all times, focusing the user on the specific behaviours needed to be applied in certain circumstances, as well as in general.

While legislation is a reaction to horrific situations that have arisen, what the mining industry seeks now, is to proactively support all personnel on their properties in achieving safe work behaviours.

Leading mining companies in SA and Australia often use technology to limit access to only those who meet the requirements for safe work, through using an electronically defined and managed permit-to-work process.  This benefits not only the full-time miners and artisans, but also external contractors performing work on site, while allowing mine supervision and management the insight and controls to remain compliant to both legislation and to company safety protocols. Technology allows management to flag irregularities and deviant behaviour patterns immediately, so deaths and injuries can be prevented through pro-active measures while also flagging non-conforming individuals for retraining.

The benefits here are not only measurable in the immense value of saving of human life to the families and communities, but also carry large beneficial financial savings through mitigating the risk of Section 54 shut-downs which can severely disrupt productivity and thus sustainability. Also, while accident and Covid-19 prevention is proactive, the right technology can also make it easier to react when things go wrong, by instructing what procedures to follow and how to trace the source.

At a time when everything seems uncertain it would make sense to seek to implement transparent systems that provide clarity for all stakeholders. Again, with safety for all in mind, electronic permits-to-work can be implemented remotely within weeks, provided the on-site teams are results and project-driven with a view to total workplace safety.

In a recent Press-Release, Minister Gwede Mantashe stressed that the safety-rating in South African mines is amongst the worst in the world, yet it doesn’t need to be this way. In this age of 4IR and Artificial Intelligence, the technological tools to promote safe working practices and guide the workers to Do The Right Things, are proven and readily available.

What’s distressing is the slow adoption and implementation of such technologies by Mine Owners and Management, and to a lesser degree by the workforce representatives. Most mining companies already have a cumbersome manual, paper-based permit-to-work system, which can be manually altered and abused for cover-ups, but mining companies in South Africa and globally who have replaced these with electronic permit-to-work systems have dramatically reduced most of the Environmental, Health and Safety issues common to all mines.

I suspect circumstances will rapidly change that mindset to a proactive one, and it’s about time! The miners themselves are ultimately the life-blood of the mines, keeping them alive.

Rifle Shot Performance Holdings 

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