Moving into a third year without a fatality, members of surface mining industry association, Aspasa are leading the way with the adoption of advanced health and safety systems that are designed to minimise injuries on their mines.
This is a remarkable feat considering that the association represents hundreds of mining operations including quarries, surface, dimension stone, salt and other mainly small and medium sized operations and accounts for a sizeable portion of the overall manpower employed in the mining sector.
Following the release of the Chief Inspector of Mines, David Msiza’s, statement on mine health and safety statistics, the association’s director, Nico Pienaar, said he was pleased that the associations members had a played their part in reducing fatalities and injuries on site. The inspector has reported 81 fatalities from other sectors of the industry during 2018. The figures given by the CIOM show that 40 were in the gold sector, 12 in platinum, 9 in coal and 20 in the “other” part of the sector. The CIOM point out these are in the diamonds, chrome, copper and iron ore operations. There are none in the commodities Aspasa represents. Due to Aspasa being able to also have members in surface mines, those mines could benefit from being members of Aspasa.
Pienaar said the association mainly represented members in the non-precious metal, stone and coal industries although membership is open to all surface mining types. Its remarkable record stems from the adoption of its own strict health and safety program that need to be adhered to in order to secure and maintain membership.
Based on ISO standards and adapted to cater for local requirements, the systems are audited annually, and non-compliances communicated directly to responsible persons on the mine. In the event of serious transgressions, the mine is given a fixed period of time to rectify the problem or have its membership revoked.
Although strict, the health and safety program also highlight good achievements and it has become a prestigious feat to excel in the program among the industry’s health and safety professionals. Ongoing workshops dealing with specific areas of concern as highlighted by the Department of Mineral Resources, as well as the industry and unions are also hosted by professionals in these fields.
“Aspasa play an active role and takes the lead in formulating regulations and best practices that prevent injuries and save lives. Rather than bulldoze these into place we rather work with the industry, workers and Government to find workable solutions that not only prevent injuries but contribute towards better practices on our mines.
“As a result of these efforts we are continuously approached by other sectors of the mining industry to represent them and have recently expanded from only representing quarries, to a much broader base. We were also recognised as being a world leader in the fields of health and safety by our peers in the Global Aggregate Information Network, which represents similar associations from across the globe including USA, Europe, China, Australia and a myriad of other countries.
“We remain committed to the industry’s Zero Harm 2020 targets and continue to work tirelessly towards assisting the industry to achieve this goal. Surface miners who wish to become part of the association are free to do so and may get in contact with our offices,” concludes Nico.