Sunday, June 7, 2009
The recent spate of deaths in decommissioned shafts by illegal miners has already had an adverse effect, not only on their families but the continued operation of the mines involved. With the economy becoming more and more depressed we will start seeing a marked increase in the number of these type of incidents, where desperate people attempt to secure some form of income. As employers we are obliged to ensure the safety of all persons who may come into contact with our operation, and that includes trespassers. Although this sounds harsh - and you may ask yourself, how do we prevent this? The answer lies in adopting a cradle to grave approach with regard to safety. We are reponsible for what we create and returning it back to nature or the community in safe and healthy manner. These unnecessary deaths should not be laid at the door of the depressed economy, but rather at our continued failure to include health and safety into all our operational protocols. We all know, and that includes those who died, that they shouldn't have been there, but what was done to prevent them from being there or communicating the hazards associated with them being there? We close a shaft, or portion of our operation, put up some signage, remove the costly operational aspects such as security and then close our eyes to these external threats. An unfortunate part of this whole spectacle is that we find it so easy to justify that we have done what is "reasonably practicable". We should stop measuring our failures against having done what is "reasonably practicable" and rather start measuring the effectiveness of our controls against what is seen as "reasonably practicable". Unfortunately our journey to health and safety maturity is still a long one. My thoughts go out to those families who have lost loved ones because we have done what is "reasonably practicable"