Since the advent of democracy in South Africa, the health and safety efforts of the mining industry and its partners have paid off in dramatic and literally life-saving ways. Between 1993 and 2019, the industry experienced a 92% overall decline in the number of fatalities, and a 93% decline in fatalities that occurred as a result of falls of ground. Injuries decreased by 72% over the same time period.
In 2017, the industry experienced a total of 90 fatalities – the first regression in 10 years and an increase of 17% on 2016. These alarming figures shook the industry and galvanised it into action.
To combat the regression, the Minerals Council Board immediately initiated a number of new safety measures. These were largely undertaken through the CEO Zero Harm Forum and included intense scrutiny of the major causes of accidents, the sharing of good practice protocols and additional research, which was conducted by the MHSC. The involvement of the Minerals Council’s members throughout this process was (and continues to be) essential.
Greater awareness of safety and health has led to a 37% safety performance improvement with 51 fatalities in 2019 (2018: 81).
Although this positive trend is reassuring and is indicative of the positive contribution of the Minerals Council’s various campaigns, every fatality is still one too many. Further collective efforts are necessary, the Minerals Council has acknowledged, including deeper engagement by the industry’s CEOs.