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SA's zero harm strategy expands to include COVID-19 response

A zero harm safety strategy for South Africa’s mining industry is continuing “with great intensity” with some interventions repurposed to deal with COVID-19 as a priority, the Minerals Council South Africa said.
SA's zero harm strategy expands to include COVID-19 response SA's zero harm strategy expands to include COVID-19 response SA's zero harm strategy expands to include COVID-19 response SA's zero harm strategy expands to include COVID-19 response SA's zero harm strategy expands to include COVID-19 response

Kumba Iron Ore CEO and chair of the CEO Zero Harm Forum Themba Mkhwanazi

Staff reporter

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The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 among mineworkers in South Africa has increased to 20, double last week's tally, according to the latest figures from the council.

The second edition of a newsletter, updating progress on the council's Khumbul'ekhaya safety strategy, said member company CEOs had established an internal portal to share standard operating procedures (SOP) and other internal documents on their COVID-19 prevention measures.

Other projects underway included developing behavioural change training on COVID-19 and using geographic information system mapping to enhance decision-making around COVID-19 in mining operations.

The council's SOP is the industry's benchmark until new guidelines for a COVID-19 mitigation code of practice is gazetted next week under a recent Labour Court ruling, sought by a union demanding binding regulations to protect workers' safety. 

"The COVID-19 response falls within the scope of the Khumbul'ekhaya strategy through the Zero Harm aspiration and 2020 priority to eliminate fatalities by preventing infections, and deaths of those infected," Themba Mkhwanazi said.

The CEO of Kumba Iron Ore and chair of the CEO Zero Harm Forum made the comments in the newsletter, released yesterday.

The industry had achieved the lowest number of mining fatalities on record last year, of 51 fatalities for 2019. 

 

The Khumbul'ekhaya, a Nguni word meaning "remember home", safety strategy was developed last year following a health and safety event for mining executives.

"At one stage the sector was experiencing on average 800 fatalities, 12,000 injuries and 18,000 cases of occupational disease every year," chief inspector of mines David Msiza said in the first newsletter edition published in October.