An alarming drop in company leaders participating in health and safety related activities has been noted by surface mining industry association, ASPASA, which it sees as a significant threat to miners’ wellbeing.

In every mine the senior leader of each unit and the company’s directors are ultimately responsible for providing the leadership, systems and processes for the prevention of fatalities. The actions of senior leaders are fundamental to the elimination of accidents.  

This has prompted the association to release special guidelines for its members to encourage a return to the fundamentals of health, safety and environmental management. “We appeal to companies and top management to be involved. This is a guideline to help all in the industry and each company will have to adapt the guidelines to suit their own requirements,” says ASPASA director, Nico Pienaar.

He explains that the guidelines provide resources for senior leaders to use in their drive to prevent fatalities through their personal actions and the processes and activities they have in place. The following guidelines have been made available for all mines to use regardless of their affiliation and in the interest of safety: 

Behavioural requirements

Careful planning

Actionable initiatives

Eliminating risks

Creating trust

Future consequences

Preventing accidents

Investigations of fatal incidents around the world have demonstrated that in order to achieve safe and fatality-free production the following nine elements are essential: 

  1. Maintaining a sense of vulnerability as complacency built on past success blinds us to warning signs 
  2. Ensuring continuous improvement in environment, equipment, strategy and systems 
  3. Applying the hierarchy of controls to eliminate the risk and reduce the chance of human error 
  4. Increasing the focus on high potential near fatal events 
  5. Recognising the person as fatal accidents are not just statistics 
  6. Maintaining operating disciplines to combat the gradual shift to unsafe behaviours 
  7. Maintaining alertness to increased and unexpected risks during abnormal operating conditions 
  8. Addressing culture and leadership through objective assessment and, where required, improvement plans 
  9. Providing courageous leadership in leading change and holding each individual in the business accountable for safe and fatality-free production.

One Response

  1. Good Morning

    Great Article, Thanks

    One point that I feel needs to added is fatigue management. This is an important point as where you have fatigue there will be a lack of vigilance and thus a lack of maintaining the operational disciplines and levels of alertness.

    Having working in facilities such as Dubai International Airport installing Baggage Handling and Sortation Equipment this point is of critical importance in high pressure environments which can easily lead to fatal accidents. At the beginning of a shift it is important to ascertain if the team working have had adequate rest prior to starting the shift and then to make a decision on allowing to continue or not.

    It is to be noted that fatal risk is not the only risk that needs to be controlled as these will be a lot less prevalent than the other disabling and serious types of injuries that may be caused when interacting with these types of machinery. Serious and Disabling injuries can have the effect of making the injured individual less or even unable to function normally and thus may cause them to be unable to work and this leads to their dependents suffering in the longer run.

    Leading Occupational Health and Safety is best done by setting a positive example, not only by showing you care, but by being there showing an interest in the work being performed and when in the hazardous zones wearing the required safety equipment. Furthermore, when devising the Risk Assessments it is better to workshop these and to have all the stakeholders and interested parties on hand to agree to the control measures in the workshop.

    It is important to give the authority to personnel and to enable them to stop an unsafe act or condition without fear of reprisal and then proceeding to make the identified deficiency safe by taking the appropriate steps to do so. Remember, all personnel have experiences and knowledge and this needs to be shared with aim of making the operation safer. This needs to happen cooperatively as this fosters buy in and in the process cooperation and ownership.

    Where there is the presence of what is commonly known as the Unsafe Risk Taker, these individuals need to be identified, retrained and if not ultimately compliant then they need to be removed as they will negatively affect your safety culture in your operation and will lead to a deterioration of the procedural requirements in the operation in question.

    Good Point on the point of complacency and the feeling that accidents will not occur. This is exactly where this will happen. When complacency creeps in the whole safety structure will erode systematically and bit by bit it will be run down to nothing. And that is where things go wrong and usually with dire consequences.

    Anyway, a well written article and great effort at making things safer. Thanks!

    Kind Regards

    Anthony Carr

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