How Important is Safety When Mining?

Scribante recently won an industry award for 500,000 hours injury free on our Fairbreeze Expansion Project. This is a massive award to win in the mining industry and shows our commitment to making health and safety a top priority.


Aside from what the award means, we felt it was a good excuse to look at the importance of safety in the mining industry more generally. After all, we didn’t win this award without a clear understanding of what safety really means!


The Hazards of Mining


Unsurprisingly, mining is a pretty hazardous process. The risks of open-pit mining are arguably less than underground mining, but it’s not a substantial difference. There are still possibilities for fire, explosions, floods, and collapse if the mine isn’t properly maintained.


Although the rate of fatalities in mining has dropped significantly with the advent of modern technology, problems still occur, particularly when safety standards aren’t followed.


How is Health and Safety Achieved?


Safety is vital for any workplace, but it’s even more important in high-risk industries like mining. As mines increase in size and scope, there’s a growing need for higher levels of safety to account for the greater number of workers and machines.


The first step in creating safer mines is a risk assessment of the site. Typically, this would be done before the site opens (or is reopened) based on the planned equipment and processes. Using data from previous mines, it’s possible to create a fairly clear risk assessment of future projects.


But this alone isn’t enough. Proper worker training is vital, including using machinery, general workplace safety, and what to do in the event of an incident. All workers are expected to use personal protective equipment, which, at the very least, will be protective headgear, eyewear, and ear protectors. Risk assessments will also be performed for more specialist processes if needed.


One area that is improving safety in mining is automation. Automating processes such as extraction and conveyor transport remove workers from the more dangerous areas of mining. Similarly, the addition of personal GPS technology and proximity warning equipment helps lower the rates of transportation incidents. Also, having workers wearing GPS technology means they can be located if an incident occurs.


Finally, there are government health and safety laws. These will cover the base standards required of any mining operation, and are constantly reviewed and adjusted based on new information or fluctuations in incidents.


Keeping the Mining Industry Safe


At Scribante, we’re committed to maintaining the highest levels of safety in the South African mining industry. In doing so, we aim to prevent injuries to any employees working onsite and to improve the efficiency of all mining operations.


If you’d like to learn more about health and safety in the mining industry, please get in touch. We’d once again like to congratulate and thank our client, Tronox, for their great work on the current project. Here’s to the next 500,000 hours of injury-free work!