Mining sector edging closer to ‘zero harm’

Zambia Chamber of Mines (ZCM) has urged all stakeholders in the mining industry to proactively participate in the industry’s health and safety industry.

“Safety is a collective responsibility, and involves everybody – from the highest levels of the company right down to the shopfloor,” said Nathan Chishimba, ZCM President  at this year’s annual Health and Safety Conference.

“Accidents will always happen. There is always the possibility of things going wrong. That’s why it’s so important to instil a culture of safety throughout the organisation, with the tone being set by the company leadership.”

ZCM reports that there had been 13 fatalities in 2016, according to figures from the Zambian Mines Safety Department.

In South Africa, for example, at least 76 people have died in mining incidents this year, a marginal increase on 2016 (73 deaths), while, in the US coal-mining sector, fatalities are already slightly above 2016 levels, with at least 11 dead.

The ZCM states that statistics show that there has never been a fatality-free year in the global mining industry.

“The good news, however, is that, despite yearly variations, the long-term trend is downwards, mining is getting safer.”

The main drivers of the downward trend in global mine fatalities and injuries are the increasing use of technology, which reduces employee exposure to hazardous and life- threatening situations, advances in mine safety and health standards, and the systematic inculcation of a safety culture among mine employees through awareness, education and training.

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