South Africa’s economic activity is mainly centred on mining, therefore, it is important that crucial safety strategies are implemented. The safety of employees is very imperative particularly in the mining sector as success lies in the employees’ capability to work effectively in a conducive environment. It is every employee’s right to work in a safe and healthy environment, no employees should have to suffer because of preventable dangers in the work environment.
In 2014 the mining sector contributed R18 billion to the South African fiscus, a total of 495,568 people were employed. With numbers like these, it has become necessary for all stakeholders to work together, to support and enable the achievement of zero harm in the workplace.
Sibanye-Stillwater is the largest individual producer of precious metals in South Africa and is one of 10 largest gold producers globally. It has recently experienced a significant increase in incidents, with 20 employees having lost their lives in nine separate incidents since February 2018.
In a recent statement CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater, Mr Neal Froneman said; “One life lost is one too many. We are appalled by the loss of our employees’ lives at our mines over the past few months. It pains all of us when employees are injured or lose their lives in safety incidents. While we cannot rectify the harm that has occurred, we will continue to support the families as best we can in their grief”.
In the process of improving safety at all their operations, Sibanye – Stillwater rolled out a safety strategy in 2017. “The safety of employees is our primary concern and, if it is not safe to operate, we expect conditions to be fixed before work can resume at a working place. There is substantial evidence that well-organised workplaces are both safe and productive, and that is our aim”, adds Froneman.
Sibanye – Stillwater has committed to;
- Launch a safety summit with stakeholders to work towards a common goal of reducing work-related fatal accidents and injuries
- Continue to provide necessary support, including counselling, financial backing, housing, education support and other benefits to the grieving families of the deceased employees
- Support and promote adherence to Section 23 of the Mine Health and Safety Act
- Established safety programmes which inform employees, supervisors and managers about the right to withdraw from an unsafe workplace and how to apply Section 23 responsibly
- Instituted a programme to promote the behaviour change required so that the right to withdraw becomes an integral part of our workplace culture
- Afford employees a formal grievance procedure and an anonymous tip-offs system that any employee can use if they are given an unlawful instruction or are victimised.
The launch of Digiine a collaborative partnership between Sibanye – Stillwater and the University of the Witwatersrand is expected to complement and improve safety and operating effectiveness.