[miningmx.com] -- The number of mining casualties both globally and in South Africa highlight rising concerns about the appropriateness of current
mining safety standards.
In a statement on Wednesday, science-based products company
DuPont said South African mining casualties stood at 24 since the
beginning of 2010 -- "an average of eight deaths a month".
It added that this figure -- together with the recent mining
accidents in West Virginia, US and in Xiangning, China -- raised
concerns about mining safety.
Carlman Moyo, regional director for DuPont Sub-Saharan Africa,
said a culture of safety needed to start with top executives and
stressed that mining houses could not continue to use the same
practices they had been employing for decades.
"A major problem is that many safety measures focus almost
exclusively on sustaining trapped miners
long enough to rescue
them, not on preventing underground explosions and disasters."
Moyo said safety procedures needed to be fully integrated into
the daily operations in mines.
"In this way, workers become aware of daily hazards and take
steps to protect themselves and others from harm."
Moyo said mining houses needed to invest in the technology that
allowed them to mine at the current deeper levels without
compromising safety standards.
"Preventive measures could include requiring coal companies to
pump out the methane gas before mining a coal deposit and
conducting more accurate testing to determine the flammability of
conveyer belts and other mine equipment, the most common causes of
He said protective apparel should be compulsory for anyone who
was working on a mine.
"They provide protection against falling debris as well as
chemical, electrical and organic hazards that
workers are exposed
Moyo said DuPont had identified that non-adherence to basic
safety standards was one of the biggest problems in local mining
"There are minimum safety levels in place, but the industry is
too under-resourced to police basic safety compliance.
"This, combined with the mounting pressure on mining houses to
reach production targets, often results in safety becoming a
Moyo encouraged mining organisations to engage with safety
specialists in the industry, for their expertise knowledge and
experience in global best practice safety methods.
"In many cases improved safety performance at mines has also led
to increased productivity and output."