Michelin South Africa operational marketing manager Flynn Colville on how to improve mine safety.
In today’s economic climate, mining companies cannot afford to have mishaps when it comes to employee safety, as this not only directly affects productivity and therefore profit, but as there are social consequences too.
There are various means to ensure the safety of mine employees in order for them to work effectively and positively impact on profit and these could mean different things to different businesses. Ultimately, they are a four simple yet effective framework to use in enforcing safe and healthy workspaces for mines.
1 Inform. Inform employees about hazards. Make sure employees who work in hazardous areas know what the hazards are, how dangerous they are, how to protect themselves and what to do when they come into contact with these hazards.
Teach employees to work safely. This will require continuous training from the employer side. Equip employees with the right knowledge and skills they need to be safe in the mining environment. Employers can implement workplace safety and health programs that are compulsory for employees to be a part of.
2 Listen. Your employees are the ones that do the day-to-day labour intensive work, so pay attention to their suggestions and complaints. Employers fall into the habit of thinking they know better than employees, but listening to employees is important if you want them to be on board with the safety and health programs developed in the company. This will ensure employee-driven safe working environment.
3 Respond timeously. Issues need to be dealt with urgently. The nature of work in mines can be extremely hazardous to the human body, and if an employee is injured on the job, the matter needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency as most of the injuries are fatal. When employees raise concerns, respond to them timeously, especially when they speak to their health and safety.
4 Empower. Employees form the crux of operations, even in the age of automation. Therefore, when designing and implementing monitoring frameworks, it is important to keep them center stage, and integrate them in monitoring technology as well. What’s great for the industry is that technology really empowers employees to handle the monitoring and evaluation processes.
Prioritising the health and safety of mine employees cuts across the entire mining value chain, with employees at the centre of it all, and technology present to better enable both the business and employees to positively impact the bottomline.