Surface miners and stakeholders in the industry are putting their heads together to devise “real-world” solutions to Covid-19 related health and safety problems that are being encountered on the country’s mines.
In a first-of-its-kind online Zoom meeting involving many of the industry’s top health and safety practitioners under the banner of industry association, ASPASA, the meeting focussed on interventions that are being undertaken by the mines to curb the spread of the disease and deal with positive cases among then ranks.
“The idea is to have regular meetings of the industry’s H&S officers to share practical workplace solutions that are proving effective in distancing workers, screening workers and visitors, as well as dealing with positive cases and getting the ball rolling in order to trace those who may have been in contact with the infected person.
“The beauty of the online meetings is that the speakers are immediately open to questions and members of the meeting can share ideas and devise best practices. It also allows for screen sharing of photographs, charts, worksheet and other visuals that paint a picture for others to better understand the speakers input,” says Nico Pienaar, director of ASPASA.
He adds that the first ASPASA H&S Covid-19 meeting shared information of several cases where workers tested positive and the interventions that were taken, as well as requirements placed on the company by the National Centre for Communicable Diseases (NCID) and other requirements.
An unexpected concern was the mental wellbeing of workers where it was noted, almost without exception, that workers are fearful of the disease, as well as the potential financial and economic aftermath, and that interventions may be necessary to deal with subsequent mental health issues in the near future. It was also noted suggested that social media has had a big role to play in scare mongering with many posts claiming that people are going to die on mass and that millions of jobs are on-the-line.
“This is something that we will need to be managed on a case-for-case basis, while simultaneously devising effective communication strategies to share facts about the disease and each particular mine’s wellbeing. It shows that this kind of information sharing is invaluable and lends experience to others who are yet to encounter these problems.
“Even everyday health and safety experiences on our mines and abroad can hold valuable lessons like the worker who got his hands on his first cigarette since level 5 lockdown ended and smoked it so fast that he passed out, or that some hand sanitisers have exploded in vehicle in Brazil due to high temperatures in vehicle cabs or that it may cause people to test positive for alcohol consumption and many other anomalies that are worth knowing.”
Nico says that, for the moment, online meetings are being well used and actually enhance the sharing of information. ASPASA’s H&S committee meetings are held regularly and are open to all member companies.
Issued on behalf of Aspasa, Nico Pienaar, Tel: (011) 791 3327, Fax: 086 647 8034, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.aspasa.co.za