Mining Companies Encouraged To Improve Workers Safety And Health
Bulawayo (New Ziana)-Mining companies should take appropriate measures to ensure their employees work under safe and healthy conditions at all times.
Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Workers Union (ZDAMWU) general secretary Justice Chinhema said this during commemorations to mark International Labour Day on Wednesday.
This year, the industry held the commemorations under the theme “Mine Workers Empowerment and Right To Living Standards Commensurate To Value Of Work For Real Transformation.”
Chinhema said at least one mine worker dies every week in the country, a trend which is disturbing and which requires concerted efforts by stakeholders in the sector to address it.
“This is regrettable as it is expected that every mine should have the appropriate measures and expertise to enhance health and safety,” he said.
He said in 2020, at least 182 mine workers died from 116 mining accidents.
The country however witnessed a decline in fatalities last year as it recorded 139 deaths from 125 accidents by September 30, he said.
“It must be emphasised that fall of ground accidents remain the largest category and the predominant cause of fatalities, followed by transportation and machinery accidents,” he said.
Chinhema said the industry records more deaths from occupational diseases than occupational injuries.
“The health impacts are visible only long after the exposure, hence the failure by miners to receive the immediate attention that they deserve,” he said, adding exposure to silica dust was the main concern, as it leads to silicosis which causes lung cancer.
It also predisposes miners to tuberculosis, which has remained a major challenge to the industry particularly when it combines with HIV and Aids.
Mine workers also experience noise-induced hearing loss, which results in permanent disability and incapacitation, said Chinhema.
“We urge the Ministry of Mines and National Social Security Authority departments responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Mine Health and Safety Act to ensure the objective of zero harm is achieved,” he said.
Chizema urged the government to ensure that mining companies also improve the
welfare of workers since the industry is the backbone of the economy and a major provider of employment.
Turning to the forthcoming harmonised elections, Chinhema urged political parties to desist from violence, saying peaceful polls would attract the investment required for the country to attain a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.
Source: New Ziana
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