The intricacies and challenges of ensuring safe and healthy mining environments in South Africa

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In South Africa, during the apartheid era, the mining sector had records of extremely high injuries and occupational diseases that led to massive death of mine workers who were predominantly Blacks. In the post-apartheid era, measures such as monitoring, inspections, investigations and regulatory interventions have been introduced to identify hazards with the aim of minimizing and eliminating the risk to health and safety of mine workers. However, despite these interventions and measures, the pace of ensuring total eradication of accidents and fatalities is slow and there is a need to accelerate it, as every life is important. This can only be realized if there is substantial improvement in the implementation, enforcement and compliance with legislation, measures and policies that have been put in place to curb accidents, diseases and fatalities in the mining sector. This article examines the effectiveness of the interventions, points out the weaknesses and provides viable solutions for improvement. The article also highlights the importance of trade unions and technologies as catalysts to drive and improve safety standards in the mining environments.

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