Safety must be a top priority in the workplace, especially where large equipment is used, work is conducted at heights or where ground falls are possible.
Surface mining “ticks all these blocks” when it comes to working in a dangerous environment and has subsequently led to comprehensive legislation being put in place to protect miners in these conditions. Yet, despite Government’s and companies’ best efforts to manage safety risks, the onus still falls largely on individuals to raise the alarm whenever a potential hazard is encountered.
The surface mining industry association, ASPASA, is therefore encouraging workers, contractors and all stakeholders on mines and quarries to make safety part of their cultures and get used to raising the alarm whenever potential risks are observed. Association director, Nico Pienaar, believes that many preventable accidents can be avoided in this manner and lead to further improved safety in this area.
“Whatever the risk, no matter how large or small, it is the individual’s responsibility to immediately report risks to their direct supervisor or responsible person in the case of a visitor or contractor. This should be done according to the sites own safety protocols, unless the matter needs immediate attention in which case it needs to be addressed on the spot to avoid an accident.
“For example, something as seemingly insignificant as faded warning signs may be reported at the end of one’s shift and reports be submitted to the relevant supervisor to timeously avoid risks; or when danger is imminent such as a missing guardrail on an exposed conveyor or piece of equipment, one should raise the alarm on the spot and approach the shift foreman or supervisor to take immediate action.
“These immediate actions should be reported and recorded as per the operation’s protocols and may further need to be reported via safety representatives. Whatever the case is, it is the individual’s responsibility to familiarise themselves with these procedures and to act quickly and appropriately to prevent all risks on site,” says Nico.
He reminds that mine managers and owners have a duty to identify risks within their own mining operations and rely on input from everybody in order to take reasonable steps to mitigate them in order to prevent harm or damage in future.
In terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) employers must be able to identify the hazards to health or safety within their workplace and assess the risks to which employee may be exposed while they are at work. They also need to record significant hazards.
Consider the following before raising the alarm:
- How serious is the risk?
- Is it serious enough to stop working?
- What are the circumstances surrounding the risk?
- What risk does it pose?
- What can be done to mitigate the risk?
- Who is responsible to deal with the risk?
- Is it reportable?
“Remember that your action can save lives and prevent injury. Act as if your own life is on the line and act decisively without fear or favour,” concludes Nico..
Aspasa, Nico Pienaar, Tel: (011) 791 3327, Fax: 086 647 8034, Email: email@example.com, Web: www.aspasa.co.za