According to reports 2017, has seen a decline in mine fatalities in Zambia. Indications are that at the close of the year, the number of fatalities this year will be lower compared to 2015 and 2016 when there were 22 deaths apiece.
Eleven deaths have been recorded so far, according to the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development. The Mineworkers Union of Zambia acknowledges about the improved workplace safety this year, although they believe mining firms still need to do more to guarantee workers’ safety.
MUZ acting director for occupational health, safety and environment Mr Yewa Kumwenda shat by May this year, the union had recorded five fatalities of their members in the mining industry.
Miners are generally prone to occupational hazards caused by drowning, fall of ground, rockfall, breakdown of vehicles, electrical faults, fall from height, and the blasting of explosives.
Although even one death is too many, Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development permanent secretary Mr Paul Chanda confirms that there were fewer deaths and accidents in the mines this year.
Mr Chanda said that perhaps mining firms have been adhering to safety standards as prescribed by law.
But he was certain that individual miners are now more cautious about the need for a safe work environment. He said Government has introduced toll-free lines for miners to raise alarm if they are not satisfied with the safety of their work environment.
Mr Chanda said that “If miners are being forced to work in an unsafe place, they are free to call those lines to give us details. That is enough for us to intervene.”
Mr Chanda said that the last accident recorded this year was at Dangote Cement Company Limited in Ndola.
Director for Mine and Safety Bright Kateka said the reduction of mine accidents this year could be due to less mining activities following the retrenchment of workers.
Mr Kateka said that it is also possible that mining firms were enforcing strict adherence to workplace safety rules and regulations.
He said in 2015 and 2016, 22 fatal accidents were recorded in the mines in Zambia.
Mr Kateka also confirmed that 11 fatalities have been recorded this year, but he fears that the figure may change when copper prices appreciate on the international market.
Mr Kateka said that “When copper prices go up, you find that there are more mining activities and we employ more people.’’
Mr Kateka said that as for the general accidents, 57 have so far been recorded in 2017 compared to 123 in 2014, 78 in 2015 and 51 in 2016.
This too depicts an improved workplace safety record for the mines.