/ 3 February 2009

NUM: Safety audit ‘extremely worrying’

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Tuesday said the Presidential Mine Safety Audit report released this week contained “extremely worrying trends”.

It also called industry comments on the report an attempt to “camouflage and paint the situation as rosy”.

The audit report, which was released on Monday, revealed that South African mining industry compliance with mine safety legislation is a mere 66%.

Welcoming the report’s release, the NUM said the 66% compliance rate confirmed its long-held view that mine health and safety is compromised in the interest of bonus payments.

The NUM said it was also “appalled” that over 100 cases against mine bosses from as far back as the year 2000 have been allowed to pile up at the offices of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

“This is very worrying that the NPA can allow criminality to take place without any proper action,” said the NUM general secretary Frans Baleni.

“It is worrying that in cases where action has taken place, companies have been fined between R2 500 and R5 000 for negligently claiming the life of mineworkers,” he added.

The trade union said some of the worrying trends identified by the report include poor hazard-identification and risk-assessment processes, slow reporting of accidents, failure to submit occupational hygiene returns and others.

“The NUM calls for a technical audit to be conducted as a matter of urgency as the current one is mainly and purely a compliance audit,” the trade union said.

It said it committed itself to working with all stakeholders to ensure the recommendations set out in the audit are implemented. — I-Net Bridge