Working in mining is risky business. Wankie (Hwange) coal mine disaster took place on 6 June 1972 when a series of underground explosions occurred at the Wankie No.2 colliery in Wankie (now known as Hwange) claiming 426 lives. It remains the deadliest mine accident to date in the country’s history.
By Michala Maly
This year mining-related accidents have claimed over 50 lives mainly in the artisanal small-scale mining industry and nothing is yet to happen to try to enforce safety rules. If you’re considering a career in mining, or you are a miner it is crucial that you take the following safety measures to keep your time in the mines as trouble-free as possible.
1. Never Ignore the Danger
The first step toward keeping yourself safe is to be cognizant of the fact that working in mining is hazardous. Accept that the mining industry is inherently filled with danger and stay alert every moment on the job. Watch out for your colleagues as well and never let your guard down. Accidents with major impact can occur in a moment of carelessness.
2. Dangerous Tasks Require Planning and Communication
When planning tasks, don’t think only of completing them as efficiently as possible. Allocate extra time and money for safety requirements. Never compromise the safety of your employees when trying to meet deadlines or to boost the quality of work. All risks should be assessed, including the possibility of accidents. Try to eliminate risks as much as possible. Where a risk still exists, provide your team with clear instructions and educate them on how to mitigate it. If necessary, deal with the danger should it arise.
3. Get Professional Training
All team members should undergo regular safety training. This should not just apply to new team members. Even long-standing employees should be made to attend refresher courses. Safety training sessions that contain theory and practical components can be very helpful. Workers who take on strenuous roles may be sent for health and fitness checks to determine whether they are able to take on the physical demands of their work.
4. Always Wear Safety Equipment
There is a litany of safety equipment that mining workers use for their protection, from helmets to safety glasses and gloves. It is essential that all workers wear the necessary safety equipment at all times. There have been countless stories of workers being saved by helmets, for example.
5. Supervise Your Team
All team members should follow safety instructions with no exceptions. A supervisor must also be diligent about following up and enforcing the rules. Never allow more people to enter a site than are allowed. Supervisors also need to know the whereabouts of all team members throughout each shift. Likewise, all workers should be kept informed about what their fellow team members are doing throughout the day. Never allow any team members to breach the safety rules without a warning or, in the case of repeated disobedience, appropriate consequences.
6. Document Your Safety Procedures
When accidents happen, all team members should know exactly what to do. Safety procedures must be clearly defined. When documenting the safety procedures, describe the various incidents that might occur, what needs to be done and whom to contact. Safety procedures should be displayed prominently in locations that can be easily accessed by team members.
7. Follow the Latest Safety Standards
Ensure all safety equipment is serviced regularly and satisfies all the latest safety standards. Never try to save on safety equipment. If an item no longer complies with the current safety standards, replace it, even if this means increasing expenses or delaying a project. Never allow staff to use outdated safety equipment, even for a short period of time. The number of safety-related incidents in the mining industry is high. Unfortunately, some of the tragedies that have occurred could have been prevented. Don’t repeat the mistakes that have been made by others. While the risks can never be eliminated completely, following the above tips can help significantly
Additional editing by Keith Sungiso