All mineworkers have the basic right to work in a safe and healthy environment. It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that all working environments meet the minimum health and safety standards as prescribed by law.
- Your rights
To ensure maximum protection of all mineworkers, it is the responsibility of the employer to:
- Provide adequate health and safety equipment at no cost to employees;
- Implement a suitable health and safety policy;
- Conduct regular occupational hygiene measurements;
- Establish a system of medical surveillance; and
- Arrange annual medical examinations at the cost of the employer.
Every mineworker has the right to leave any working place whenever:
- Circumstances arise at that working place which, with reasonable justification, appear to pose a serious danger to the health or safety of that person;
- The health and safety representative responsible for that working place directs that employee to leave that working place.
It is also the right of every employee to dispute findings of unfitness to perform work.
Preventing dust exposure on SA mines today
South African mining companies have made comprehensive efforts to address dust as an occupational hazard in South African mines. These efforts include limiting dust generation, controlling dust liberation at source, monitoring workers exposure and ensuring the availability and provision of personal protective equipment (PPE).
South African mining companies are world-leaders in cooling and ventilation management, particularly when it comes to dust control knowledge and technology.
Containing and controlling dust generation
As far as possible, mines aim to prevent the generation of dust at source. Dust may be caused by various mining activities, such as blasting, drilling and sweeping, and during transport. One of the most effective ways of managing the dust that is inevitably generated is through efficient ventilation, with fans and detailed ventilation plans in place to remove the dust from working areas.
Collectively these efforts have resulted in the incidence of silicosis (the number of new cases in a study population in a given period) declining over time.
Educating mineworkers is key to the success in limiting workers’ exposure to dust. A range of tools are used to educate – including regular health training sessions, messaging included in internal communications (i.e. educational comic strips), posters at workplaces, leisure / changeroom areas and health facilities, and discussions at team meetings during work hours. Education and training initiatives are regularly undertaken, including at induction sessions and annual medicals, and also in workplace briefings.
- The regulatory environment
The regulatory environment for the compensation and medical care for occupational injuries and diseases in the South African mining industry is governed and influenced mainly by the following two Acts of Parliament:
COIDA (Act No.130 of 1993)
The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (“COIDA”) provides for compensation for disablement and/or injuries caused by injuries or diseases sustained or contracted by employees in the course of their employment, or for death resulting from such injuries or diseases. COIDA applies to all casual and full-time employees, who as a result of a workplace accident or work-related disease are either injured, killed or become ill. Only the employers, and not the employees, contribute to this compensation fund.
ODMWA (Act No.78 of 1973)
The Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act is more than 100 years old and was last amended in 1994. The Act provides compensation for occupational lung diseases in miners and ex mineworkers only. It is administered by the Medical Bureau for Occupational Disease (MBOD) which falls under the Department of Health Chief Directorate: Non-Communicable Diseases.
The following table provides a breakdown of the most essential information relating to the governance of each Act and the corresponding rights and responsibilities of employers and employees:
COIDA ODMWA Responsible government department Department of Labour Department of Health Administration cost Included in levies on employers Borne by the state Applicability All employers and industries (including mining) Controlled mines and works Cover All occupational injuries and diseases excluding 6 defined compensatable diseases acquired in controlled mines and works 6 defined compensatable lung diseases in controlled mines and works Protection for employers against civil actions Provided (Section 35) None Medical care For two years or longer under certain circumstances Lifelong, subject to certain conditions Maximum salary on which compensation is based R312 480 a year R36 000 a year
The following list describes the applicable benefits to successful claimants under the two Acts:
COIDA (as of 1 April 2019) ODMWA (as of 1 April 2018)
Total temporary disablement 75% of earnings, with a maximum of R28 658 per month for a maximum of 12 months, irrespective of cause Loss of earnings for up to 6 months for tuberculosis only 30% (or less) permanent disablement – equivalent to 1st degree silicosis under ODMWA Lump sum equal to 15 times monthly earnings subject to a maximum and minimum of R320 985 and R8 250 respectively, and for lower percentages a proportional lesser amount Lump sum of R63 100 100% permanent disablement – equivalent of 2nd degree silicosis A monthly pension equal to 75% of monthly earnings up to a maximum and minimum of R28 658 and R4 012 respectively Lump sum of R140 506