A survey conducted by the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) indicates that between January and September 2023, 110 fatalities were reported in the nation’s mines, up from 106 incidents during the same time the previous year.
Eighteen percent of all incidents reported during the reporting period were related to large-scale mining operations. Eighty percent of these mishaps happened during subterranean activities.
In contrast, small to medium-sized mining activities accounted for an astounding 60% of all accidents, whereas illegal mining operations only contributed 22% of the total.
The safety situation in Zimbabwe’s mining industry is depicted in dire terms by these numbers. Given the informal and frequently unregulated nature of these enterprises, the high frequency of accidents in small- to medium-sized mining operations is especially troubling.
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Health and safety consultant Mr. Steward Nhengo told The Herald Finance and Business in an interview that “a deliberate holistic approach is needed to reduce fatalities and the Government needs to swiftly move to ensure mining companies adhere to high safety standards to ensure the safety of the employees.”
Mr. Nhengo emphasized the significance of adopting a whole strategy for safety that includes investing in safer technologies, training, and regulatory enforcement.
In order to raise safety standards in the mining industry, he also demanded more assistance for small- to medium-sized mining businesses. According to the CoMZ, the mining industry has implemented a “zero harm” program to do away with mishaps and fatalities.
“As a result of insights gained from interviewing mining executives, the majority of mines have implemented zero harm initiatives, which include environmental protection and the promotion of occupational safety and health accidents.”
“Collaboration between the Chamber of Mines and other mining organisations is expected to entrench the zero harm initiatives to reduce fatal accidents and other negative impacts on society,” it stated.
It stated that efforts to encourage ongoing improvement of safety performance are carried out by the mining industry under the auspices of the Chamber of Mines’ Safety, Health, and Environment Committee.
These consist of mine rescue competitions, first aid competitions, and Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE) audits. SHE workshops and seminars. work-related health.
Under the TB in Mines project, which is backed by the Global Fund, the mining industry is also actively participating in the regional effort to lessen the prevalence of TB in mines.
Leading awareness efforts in other health sectors, such as HIV and Cancer awareness programs, is the Chamber of Mines Safety, Health, and Environment Committee.
Stakeholders in the industry requested the government to make sure mining companies follow all safety laws, especially small and medium-sized businesses. This can entail penalizing non-compliance and conducting routine inspections of mining sites.
Furthermore, all miners ought to undergo thorough safety instruction, regardless of the size of their operations. The stakeholders stated that emergency response protocols, risk reduction, and hazard identification should all be included in this training. Using contemporary mining technologies can drastically lower the chance of mishaps.
“In the mining industry, worker safety has been subordinated to profit maximization,” stated Justice Chinhengo, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Workers Union.
Tragic deaths are occurring as a result of businesses failing to invest in vital health and safety technologies. Furthermore, unfit workers are being put in crucial mining jobs that call for qualified and experienced staff.We’ve seen flagrant disrespect for long-standing safety laws, and the government has done nothing.”