The hazardous environments presented in the mining industry with increased potential for largescale environmental damage, loss of life and certain exposure that is potentially damaging to health and safety, requires stringent risk mitigation. KBC Health & Safety points out that the focus for its clients is now on short courses, compliance and virtual training, micro-learning, and onboarding solutions.
The company’s onboarding specialist, Dion Denton, says, “Fortunately, South African mines are safety-orientated to the extent that it forms part of their core values. In addition, the industry has to comply with all legal and regulatory requirements as stipulated by the Department of Mineral Resource and Energy (DMRE).” Both the Mine Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996 (MHSA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 (OHSA) provide a good framework for compliance in South Africa’s industrial landscape.
Mining houses have traditionally opted for in-house training. However, this is often not the ideal solution, especially given the pandemic induced trends, such as an increase in the demand for specialised services from training companies including virtual training, and the likes of the KBC Virtual Safety Officer (VSO) concept aimed at contractors in particular.
“As mining is such a high-risk environment, the greatest opportunities for improvement lie in managing the various contractors that work on a mine. This is because some may not be used to operating in such hazardous conditions, and hence may require more assistance in order to comply fully with all of the stringent health and safety requirements,” highlights the company’s GM, Louise Woodburn.
According to KBC, it is also important to bear in mind that the legal requirements for the mining industry, which happen to be amongst the best in the world, change on a regular basis. Both contractors and mines should stay abreast of such changes to ensure that their employees are protected at all times.
Denton comments that the requirements are very comprehensive and are based on actual incidents that have occurred and they specifically require mining houses and contractors working on the mine to ensure they partner with a specialist in the field so that they are able to interpret the various pieces of legalisation in terms of their employees’ health and safety.
“Staying competitive in today’s global marketplace means that organisations need to be innovative, adaptive and ever-changing. For this to work, employees need to be able to challenge themselves to obtain new knowledge, ideas, and skills. Learning needs to be on a flexible, on-demand and continual basis to contribute this kind of cutting-edge performance,” elaborates Woodburn.
“Critical learning also has its place and, in the form of lessons learnt, can make a huge difference on how things are handled in future. It can also be used to improve current processes, procedures and standards, and applied in improvement opportunities where ultimately lives can be saved, and injuries prevented.”
In terms of future developments, Woodburn reveals that the company is focusing on a ‘one-stop shop’ concept for its onboarding solutions. This will incorporate health and safety and induction training, as well as gap analyses to allow its clients to better understand their own processes, with the added benefit of external oversight, so that any improvements to streamline the process can be readily identified.