“We are encouraged by the drop in mine deaths from 168 in 2009 to 128 last year,” says Franz Stehring, UASA Divisional Manager looking after mine worker members. However, he stresses that some cases are still being investigated, hence the numbers could still change.
Stehring says the decline in mine deaths is directly attributable to a dedicated attempt by all relevant social partners to improve safety standards.
“Collaboration between employers, trade unions and the department through a series of interventions such as the mining summit and the signing of the Mining Charter is beginning to bear fruit. What we are experiencing today is a greater level of collaboration and maturity whereby the parties accept joint responsibility for safety in our mines,” says Stehring.
“Having said that, this is still work in progress. Even if the final figures still show a figure of 128 deaths for last year, it will be 128 too many. Our aim should be nothing more than zero deaths in our mines, making mines the safest workplaces in industry.”
Stehring says one of the biggest tasks ahead of the social partners is continuous awareness building among the collective membership to practice safe working procedures and to remind members to always look out for each other while at work.
“We have managed to achieve a critical level of buy-in and cooperation between the social partners, which I believe could see mine deaths reduced even further next year,” concludes Stehring.