The Director of Mines in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Gabotshwarege Tshekiso, has expressed concern at some mining companies’ continued flouting of the set occupational safety regulations.
Speaking at a workshop on occupational health and safety organized by the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) in Francistown, Tshekiso said that mining companies fail to document and update the results of hazard identifications, risk assessments and determination of controls in their daily operations.
“Our investigations have revealed that some mining companies fail to establish, implement and maintain procedures to record, investigate and analyze incidents in order to identify the need for corrective action and opportunities for preventive action and improvement,” said Tshekiso.
He also said that mine inspections have shown that a lot of mining companies compromise safety in the quest for high production targets, especially during depressed mineral prices and at the start of mining projects.
“Non conformity to prescribed standards will not be tolerated. My department is currently working on prescribing corrective action under the Occupational Health and Safety policy,” he said.
While he said that the mining industry largely complies with set regulations, Tshekiso insists that there is a need for the industry to do better in terms of its controls, its roles, responsibility, accountability and authority of the management personnel.
“We should be better prepared for emergencies and we must reduce response times. Carry out internal audits to evaluate the compliance and competence of personnel and to monitor their performance,” he said.
The department of mines has recorded improvements, as the number of reportable accidents in the mines has decreased in the past 15 years to average 50 per a year. Tshekiso said that such successes are a result of initiatives implemented by the mining industry.
He also said that the mining industry is regulated through a legal instrument that requires approval of competent persons to control, manage and direct mining operations.
Mining companies are required to submit their monthly health and mortality returns, summarizing mining related diseases that were contracted by employees working under their control, queries raised, and investigations being carried out for any reported abnormalities.